After Obama: Some Proposed Reforms

I’ve pointed out over the past few years to many that the only thing stopping a President from acting like a king is his own character.  There are a mere three limitations on the President’s power:

1.  His term of office.  It ends at a date certain – no matter what else happens, after 4 or 8 years, on a certain January 20th, he’s no longer President and can’t order a White House orderly to so much as pick up a piece of paper.

2.  He cannot spend money without Congressional authorization.

3.  He may be impeached.

When our Founders gathered in 1787, they had in their collective memory the forms and ways of lots of different government systems – monarchy, republic and democracy.  While a lot of my fellow TEA Parties argue the Founder created a Republic, that is not quite true.  The Founders created a hybrid combining what they figured was best about a monarchy, a democracy and a republic.  The House is Democracy; the Senate is Republic; the Presidency is Monarchy.  Elective monarchy, to be sure – but monarch none the less.  Back in the 1920’s when Winston Churchill was writing his stupendous The World Crisis about the First World War, he described to what was mostly a foreign audience the American system of government – and he noted that the President of the United States had, in practical terms, more power than any other potentate on earth.  Keep in mind that Churchill was writing about a time when there was a Czar in Russia and a Kaiser in Berlin.  He was not at all wrong – even a theoretical autocrat like the Czar was hemmed in and limited in the exercise of his power by more systems of law and custom than was – or is – the President of the United States.  The United States was lucky first in having the magnificent character of George Washington as our first President, and then in the fact that even his most flawed successors – until just recently (ie, 2009) – tried to in some manner mold themselves in to the example provided by Washington.  Washington never abused his overwhelming authority and his successors until Obama refrained, from the most part, from so doing (and, no, Nixon wasn’t the most abusive – it is actually rather a three way tie between Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and FDR).  But now that the monarchist cat is, so to speak, out of the bag, I think we need some reforms.

We must, of course, have an executive who can act – and act independently of Congress and the Courts, especially during a time of national emergency.  But with that, we must curb the power of the presidency to ensure it more closely conforms to the ideals of the Founders and the example of George Washington.  Given this, I propose the following:

1.  Conviction in an impeachment trial to require 57 votes in the Senate rather than 67.  Its still a high bar, but not nearly as high as 67, which is just about impossible to attain (as is seen by the fact that in more than 200 years, no President has been removed via impeachment – though it is true that Nixon resigned because he was told there would be 67 votes to convict…but, still, we should have removed four or five presidents by now).

2.  Employees of the executive branch agencies – from highest to lowest – are all to serve at the pleasure of the President.  This does, in a very real way, increase Presidential power – but it also lets everyone working in the executive branch agencies know that come four to eight years hence (at the latest) there will be a new President in town who can fire them at will.  This, I think, will induce a measure of caution in to bureaucrats – make them less likely to just blindly follow the commands – direct or indirect – of a President to, say, break the law as the IRS did recently in its attacks on TEA Party groups.

3.  No money shall be drawn from the Treasury for offensive military action save upon an official declaration of war against an identified nation or nations.  No more going to war with “Congressional authorization” (Iraq) or without (Libya).  If a President wants to war on someone, he has to go down to Congress and request a declaration of war.  No more half wars; no more quasi-wars; no more police actions.  War is war, period.

4.  Limit the power of pardon to only those convicted of a crime prior to the President’s term.  In other words, no more January 19th pardons of political cronies as a President exits.

5.  Annually, Congress shall vote on the issue “Resolved: the President has in the previous 12 months faithfully executed all of the laws of the United States”.  If it passes, then nothing happens.  If it is defeated, then articles of impeachment are to be voted on in the House.  Congressmen are to be held legally responsible for this vote: if it is found at any time that they voted in favor of the resolution when they knew it was not correct, they can be sent to jail for 20 years.  This is an annual “impeachment jeopardy” for the President – and a massive risk for the Congressmen.  Better think carefully, Mr. President, about not enforcing laws you don’t like…and Congresscritter, how’s about 20 years in jail if you’re just being a partisan hack and backing the President because he’s in your party?

Anyways, those are some of my ideas – please bring forward any you can think of.

UPDATE:  Congressional Republicans are looking in to curbing Presidential power:

Congressional Republicans are considering various options to curb President Obama’s use of executive powers, which they say are excessive.

GOP officials have long claimed that the president has violated the law and the Constitution through administrative actions on issues ranging from immigration to nominations to the U.S. military involvement in Libya.

But the president’s recent move to change ObamaCare through an administrative fix has sparked a new round of discussions within the conservative base and Republicans on Capitol Hill…

It is, in a sense, a shame we have to do this – but given that Democrats will continue to nominate people like Obama who have no sense of what a law is, we have to make certain that future President are not able to do the illegal acts Obama has done.

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30 thoughts on “After Obama: Some Proposed Reforms

  1. Amazona November 17, 2013 / 10:10 am

    If we are going to talk about limiting the power of the monarch executive branch, we need to talk about the newly assumed power of the king president to simply invent new, expanded, powers for federal agencies. The executive edict giving the EPA nearly unlimited power, with no oversight and no accountability, to determine what is a “pollutant” and then what the agency wants to do to about it, is an excellent example.

    From Newsmax: (emphasis mine)

    New EPA Rules Will Have ‘No Effect’ on Climate Change

    Would it be a good idea to shut down America’s coal-fired energy industry to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by a mere 0.01 percent? The Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama administration apparently think so.

    The EPA recently proposed new limits on carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants that would prevent new construction and gradually close older plants.

    The EPA maintains the rules will help protect Americans from the ill effects of man-made climate change.

    But many scientists challenge the EPA’s assertion that carbon dioxide emissions are related to climate change, noted Paul Driessen, senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and author of “Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death.”

    Those scientists cite solar, oceanic, and other factors the EPA ignores as potential causes of climate change, and point out that human beings account for just 4 percent of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere each year.

    And American coal-fired power generation is responsible for just 3 percent of humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions.

    “In other words, the power plants the EPA wants to shut down account for a trivial 0.01 percent of the carbon dioxide added to Earth’s atmosphere annually,” Driessen writes in an article for The Washington Times.

    He also says that “China, India, Russia, and Brazil alone emit twice as much carbon dioxide as the United States. Therefore, even if the theory that carbon dioxide controls Earth’s climate is correct, the new regulations will have no effect on climate change.”

    They will have an effect on the economy, however. Complying with rules set by the EPA and other federal entities is estimated to cost U.S. businesses $1.8 trillion a year.

    • M. Noonan November 17, 2013 / 1:36 pm

      Regulatory reform is also a must – some law along the lines of “if it is not specifically authorized by statute, the bureaucracy can’t do it”. If some regulator thinks something is needed but he can’t find a warrant for it in law, then he’ll have to apply to Congress for a new or amended law.

      • Amazona November 17, 2013 / 2:09 pm

        You’re right. The Founders had the same idea, which is why we have the 10th Amendment. But we can see how effective THAT has been.

        How long is our list of federal programs and agencies and laws which were, and are, clearly not part of the 17 delegated duties of the federal government?

        Pretty darned long and getting longer all the time.

      • M. Noonan November 19, 2013 / 2:15 pm

        Amazona,

        As they say, probably no American can get through a day without violating some aspect of Federal law. It is beyond absurd – and it needs to change.

    • ricorun November 17, 2013 / 2:24 pm

      Newsmax (via Amazona): Would it be a good idea to shut down America’s coal-fired energy industry to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by a mere 0.01 percent?

      With all due respect, this is like asking whether it’s a good idea to buy an Atari game system if you have access to a PS4 at a similar price, or whether it’s a good idea to buy a Blackberry phone if you have access to an iPhone 5S at a similar price. Like those other analogies, coal-fired energy is a bad idea for a variety of reasons (including but certainly not limited to it’s CO2 load), but the relative price parity achieved by other sources makes the retreat from coal a no-brainer. And maybe that’s the litmus test Mark is looking for: if it makes no sense to anyone other than the lobby promoting it, don’t allow it.

      • ricorun November 17, 2013 / 5:10 pm

        Then again, Mark has promoted all kinds of activities within the rubric of “making, mining, and growing” which don’t make any economic sense. That leads one to believe that something so pragmatic as economic sense in and of itself doesn’t make sense, right? It has to make ideological sense first and foremost, right? And that explains this: according to Amazona’s favorite political philosopher, Jonah Goldberg, it has to make ideological sense regardless of whether it makes economic sense.

        And somehow the idea that an argument has to make ideological sense trumps whether it makes economic sense is somehow LESS dogmatic and autocratic!!?? I don’t get it.

      • dbschmidt November 17, 2013 / 7:15 pm

        I would like someone, even a troll like Rico, to explain to me why coal which accounted for 42% of ALL electrical power in the US in 2011 should be sent to the wayside on the whim of a megalomaniac? Your piss-poor comparisons leave off two distinctions–free choice and the free markets. Largest purchaser of coal–electrical companies.

        For the next month–go home and don’t forget to switch off all of your electrical items for 26 minutes of every hour. No matter if it is just a TV or a piece of life-saving equipment–turn it off because you don’t need coal power. 26 minutes of every hour of the day. If you hate nuclear as well — another ~ oh’ well, if you believe in only green energy-get a hut with solar, wind & batteries (evil lead polluters) and enjoy the 14th century.

        Your comparisons sound a great deal like those maps they show of coverage of 4G during commercials (you know what they are–don’t you?) What good does 4G do me if it is not in my area? I have a shiny new iPhone5s that cannot make a call. Really kewl though.

        Same respects if the Atari system works 100% of the time but the PS4 fails constantly. I like stuff that works as promised–let alone how many people are being put out of work by this President’s misbegotten beliefs on so many things. I guess that is what happens when a neophyte is elevated beyond his abilities. Can’t wait–if we as a nation survives–until he is nothing more than a community agitator again. Then he will require the Secret Service to protect him from all of them folks he helped and saved.

      • ricorun November 18, 2013 / 7:21 pm

        Things change, db. Regardless of what contribution coal fired plants make to the current energy mix, there are now cheaper, cleaner, more versatile options, in one combination or another, available virtually everywhere in the country. My analogies are spot on. Your defense of Atari was quaint, but it still paints you as a luddite — as does your defense of coal.

      • neocon01 November 19, 2013 / 4:24 pm

        reek 0
        there are now cheaper, cleaner, more versatile options, in one combination or another, available virtually everywhere in the country.

        complete BS

      • neocon01 November 19, 2013 / 4:30 pm

        Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel on the planet. It is a relatively cheap fuel, with some of the largest deposits in regions that are relatively stable politically, such as China, India and the United States.

      • Amazona November 19, 2013 / 5:15 pm

        I see we have been treated (?) to some more examples of what passes for logic on Planet Rico. Let’s see, evidently on Planet Rico if someone says “would it be a good idea to engage in a radical and Draconian activity with serious negative consequences if there is no significant advantage to doing so?” it means the same thing as (is analogous to) “should I buy something outdated and obsolete (or nearly so) or something newer and more nifty for the same price?”

        Well, in the real world the first example, of paying a lot of money and getting very little back while creating myriad new problems has nothing to do with choosing to pay a lot of money for something old or the same amount for something new.

        But the effort does point out the odd twists and turns of rico’s thought processes and does help explain some of the odd conclusions he reaches and bizarre arguments he makes.

        And it is this erratic lurching from one thing to another and determining links among them that simply do not exist, that probably explains his odd conviction that if I quote someone, that someone is now my “favorite political philosopher”. I must be quite careful to never link to anything said by Reid, Pelosi or Obama, or I’ll be accused of suddenly having a whole raft of new “favorite political philosophers”.

      • Amazona November 19, 2013 / 8:41 pm

        Your defense of Atari was quaint, but it still paints you as a luddite — as does your defense of coal.

        Yeah, because on Planet Rico the Luddites are the ones playing with computers and promoting the production of cheap electricity.

        I’ll bet the Ricoan Amish drive Porsches and the Ricoan Democrats do not have their heads up their butts.

  2. Amazona November 17, 2013 / 10:15 am

    Another article on the excesses of King Barry:

    From National Review Online:

    The Rule of Law?
    By Victor Davis Hanson
    November 14, 2013 1:55 PM

    When his pet businesses did not like elements of the Affordable Care Act, Obama simply exempted them. When employers objected that their mandate would unduly hamper job creation, the president simply ignored the settled law and exempted them. Now, when millions have lost their coverage, the president is said to be ready to again reinterpret settled law and no longer demand that private insurance plans conform to the ACA statute, at least for a year.

    Aside from the question of whether it is legal or right for the president to decide arbitrarily which elements of legislation to faithfully execute, it is also a sort of new way of ad hoc governing: The president grandly introduces a new piece of unworkable legislation, does not know or care much about the consequences of implementing it, demagogues the bill, demonizes the opposition, gets it passed, uses the passage for political purposes, and then waits to see what happens in the real world.

    When more than 50 percent of the country is outraged, he scraps what he finds politically useful to scrap (“enforcement discretion”). Apparently, Obama believes that after such trial and error he will work the bugs out of the ACA and end up with what he can call a success — too bad for those who lose coverage or pay more in the meantime and for the legalists who worry that what he is doing is against the law.

    All this is right out of the radical Athenian assembly, which on any given day could do whatever its majority wished and then the next undo whatever it wished. But such governance is not what the framers had in mind when they established the checks and balances of a republican tripartite government and entrusted the president with faithfully executing all the laws passed by congress and signed by him.

    • Amazona November 17, 2013 / 10:31 am

      <i? "The president grandly introduces a new piece of unworkable legislation, does not know or care much about the consequences of implementing it, demagogues the bill, demonizes the opposition, gets it passed …….”

      GETS IT PASSED

      This is the key. For some reason, Dems are so intimidated by what they think might happen to them if they stray off the Obama path, they trot along in his wake like obedient little sheep. I don’t know if the constant threat to be called a racist has them cowed, if it is the supposed popularity of the president that has them convinced they have to be seen as supporting him to be reelected, or if they truly do share his radical dislike for the constitution and its rule of law. I suspect that the latter is the least likely.

      I would like to see a 2014 election season based on a nationwide theme: “Did Senator XYZ vote for a bill he never read and still does not understand? FIRE HIM!!” We have been handed the perfect approach to voters, an in-your-face example of what happens when people pass bills that are so badly written they simply cannot be enforced, and which—if enforced—-are bad for the people and the nation.

  3. neocon01 November 17, 2013 / 1:16 pm

    we have to pass it to know what is in it……..totally INSANE. and in my opinion CRIMINAL!!

    • Amazona November 19, 2013 / 5:21 pm

      What’s insane is the number of morons who accepted the idea of having to commit to a law before knowing what it said.

      I’d love to sell my house to one of these people. “Here, sign the contract and make the commitment to buy it no matter what, and I’ll tell you the price and terms later. And oh, by the way, I get to change the price, and the terms, any time I want.”

  4. Retired Spook November 19, 2013 / 10:18 am

    One reform that should be at the top of the list is to remove people who manipulate government data in order to fool enough people to get re-elected.

    • M. Noonan November 19, 2013 / 2:14 pm

      Matt brought that to my attention yesterday – if it proves true, then we’ll simply have to impeach. I know its forlorn, but we just can’t let it stand. This is just a lie too far. I suspected manipulated data, but if we’ve got credible witnesses who will testify under oath that they were instructed to fudge the data, then we have to go all out to get Obama out of the White House. Its just too much.

  5. Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H. [Journ.] November 19, 2013 / 3:54 pm

    Where were the cries for such reforms 5, 10, 20 or even 40 years ago? There weren’t any for a clear reason and that reason was a respect for the will of the voters. These three remedies are nothing more than what you accuse Obama of doing– circumventing the Constitution.

    • neocon01 November 19, 2013 / 4:22 pm

      and the NYC “hack” (cabby) pipes in with his usual WRONG assessments.

    • Amazona November 19, 2013 / 5:17 pm

      Yeah, but we have to remember, the supposed pudgy Jewish NYC cabby is also the scrawny lesbian with huge plastic breasts and the alien member of an alien hive from an alien planet. Or did you miss the revelation that they are all the same?

      Our first clue, aside from the shared insanity, was the preening over invented credentials and the invented positions on an invented “newspaper” in an invented world in which they speak an invented language. Then one of them evidently posted the exact same post as the one sent in by another, in the same time frame.

      Uh-oh.

    • tiredoflibbs November 19, 2013 / 8:56 pm

      Freddy the forker troll: “Where were the cries for such reforms 5, 10, 20 or even 40 years ago?”
      Uh, there have been cries, you were just not paying attention or agreed with those cries because a non-proggy was President.

      Freddy the forker drone: “These three remedies are nothing more than what you accuse Obama of doing– circumventing the Constitution.”

      1. His term of office. It ends at a date certain – no matter what else happens, after 4 or 8 years, on a certain January 20th, he’s no longer President and can’t order a White House orderly to so much as pick up a piece of paper.

      Huh freddy? Uh, how does this remedy circumvent the Constitution?

      2. He cannot spend money without Congressional authorization.

      You are aware that Congress controls the purse strings of government funding? Notice during the shutdown, all the spending resolutions originated in the House? and not the White House? This remedy would circumvent the Constitution?

      3. He may be impeached.
      Uh, freddy, how does this remedy circumvent the Constitution?

      I believe you were just dying to post your usual drivel saying that “These three remedies are nothing more than schemes to limit the power of the President because he is black.”

      Pathetic as usual, freddy.

  6. Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H. [Journ.] November 20, 2013 / 12:37 am

    Tired I was referring to the first three remedies as proposed by Mark. Nice classy vomiting of far Right Colterite talking points though.

    • tiredoflibbs November 20, 2013 / 3:54 pm

      “Nice classy vomiting of far Right Colterite talking points though.”
      Hardly, freddy, but that is your usual response to anything you have no rational argument against. Answer 2 is already part of the Constitution, so it is hardly a right wing talking point. Unless of course, those, who wish the President to follow the Constitution as he swore to, are extreme right wingers.

      Again, pathetic freddy.

      • Amazona November 21, 2013 / 11:29 am

        Actually, tired, there is no way to know what Freddy/Diane/the Major Pain, et al might have been talking about in the whimper about “…the first three remedies as proposed by Mark.”

        If he/she/it/them meant the first three observations by Mark, which led off the thread post, then they are already limitations, or at least attempted limitations, on presidential power, ALREADY PART OF THE CONSTITUTION. Duh.

        If he meant the first three of several that appeared later, I saw these as proposals of new amendments. The intent, as I saw it, was to amend the Constitution to make these suggestions also part of the Constitution, which would hardly mean “circumventing” the Constitution.

        By F/D/MP. etc’s manipulation of logic, the Bill of Rights itself is a circumvention of the Constitution.

        I sometimes wonder if these various entities trying to shoulder each other out of the way for time on the computer are writing from the day room in a mental hospital, instead of from someone’s mommy’s basement, which was the original take on the infantile posturings of he/she/they/it since the beginning of forker posts.

      • M. Noonan November 21, 2013 / 12:57 pm

        They really don’t seem to understand, do they? I mean, its perfectly fine to disagree with me…and let’s hear the reasons if anyone does; and it would be great to get alternate ideas which may prove vastly better than my own. But what, in the event, do we get? Something which indicates a stunning lack of comprehension of what I wrote…or, indeed, of what any conservative or libertarian writes. It is very much as if they have walled themselves up…hating us, but not at all listening to us but as soon as they perceive an attack upon their Obama, they want to hit back.

      • Amazona November 21, 2013 / 1:15 pm

        Actually understanding what is said is simply not part of why they do what they do. As you and I and many others have pointed out, what we get is a knee-jerk reaction, based on spasm of emotion, devoid of reason or logic, prompted by an automatic defense response.

        I was once a Liberal, but the one thing I can say about that position is that I had the integrity to be open to information contrary to my emotion-based stance. When I was faced with facts—in my case, the fact that the so-called Women’s Movement was hypocritical and two-faced, defending a Lefty icon when he was accused of crimes against women by viciously attacking his accusers in vile sexist terms—-I was willing to step back from my old perceptions and take another look.

        So, having been there, having experienced the discomfort at having preconceived notions challenged, and having had the courage and intelligence to let those challenges lead me to investigation of those notions, I have even less respect than many might have for the lemmings who make it clear it is not just that they HAVE these notions (which I can understand, understanding as I do the propaganda fed to them) but that they simply do not care if they are true.

        It is this indifference to fact and truth that I find so despicable. They do not CARE if we are right. It doesn’t matter.

        That, and the simple fact that they never, ever, argue that the political system they promote and defend is superior other than to simply state that it is, without any understanding of it, any understanding of its history, any underpinning for this blind support other than a pathological need to hate and the choice of an invented Other (the imagined “conservatives” they attack).

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