published Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Chambers: Storm warning on the presidential power grab

By Mike Chambers

“The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the President is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power.”

Were these right-wing sputterings from Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, or Rush Limbaugh? Not even close. The learned opinion came from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley during recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

Interestingly, Turley is a noted liberal and Obama supporter. He made headlines in his successful defense of Petty Officer Daniel King, who faced the death penalty for alleged spying for Russia. He is known for his review of polygamy laws in the British Columbia Supreme Court. He is widely interviewed by the New York Times and USA Today.

Turley explained that the “Newtonian orbit that the three branches (of government) exist in is a delicate one but it is designed to prevent this type of concentration.”

Remember civics class? Among the lessons — the legislature, who pass the laws; the executive, who administer the laws; the judiciary, who decides their constitutionality — a “checks and balance of power”, one that protects all Americans.

Highlights of the hearing touched on usurpation of power in President Obama’s military operations in Libya, sidestepping of immigration law (which Turley admitted agreeing with, by the way — just not how the President basically ignored written law), and wholesale executive changes by the President concerning the Affordable Health Care Act — not just “tweaks,” — but actual unconstitutional rewriting and changing of the law.

The President has said: “If Congress does not act, I will.” He was indirectly quoted by Julie Pace of AP on Oct. 6, referring to the then-coming government shutdown by the House: “Obama didn’t specifically rule out taking action on his own if Congress fails to increase the debt ceiling, but said he doesn’t expect to get to that point.”

Someone needs to remind this “reporter” — and “constitutional professor” (a part–time adjunct professor, actually) — the House has the power of the purse, not the executive branch.

But he was able to shut down World War II memorials and, according a Fox13 Salt Lake City news report on Oct. 14, threaten the cutoff of food stamps to 100,000 families in Utah. Is this leadership? Or hard political force, Chicago style?

Where could such a pattern lead, and where does it spread?

Professor Turley expanded his criticism:

“There are two trends going on which should be of equal concern to all members of Congress. One is that we have had the radical expansion of presidential powers under both President (George W.) Bush and President Obama. We have what many once called an imperial presidency model of largely unchecked authority. And with that trend we also have the continued rise of this fourth branch. We have agencies that are quite large that issue regulations. (I assume the EPA, FDA, NSA, IRS, DHS etc.) The Supreme Court said recently that agencies could actually define their own or interpret their own jurisdiction.”

During the same hearing, Michael Cannon, director of Health Policy Studies for the Cato Institute, reminded us there is “one last thing to which the people can resort if the government does not respect the restraints that the Constitution places of the government.

“Abraham Lincoln talked about our right to alter our government or our revolutionary right to overthrow it,” he said. “That is certainly something that no one wants to contemplate. If the people come to believe that the government is no longer constrained by the laws then they will conclude that neither are they.”

No negotiations, no compromise, no debate in the Senate, no balance, no rule of law. A “fundamental transformation” of the American experiment into one of raw power by one or a few.

Such a change could easily lead to a Constitutional storm endangering both liberal and conservative Americans.

Mr. President, cannot both sides keep our Constitution and country, “if we want to”?

Mike Chambers lives on Lookout Mountain.

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nucanuck said...

Now that the real power in the US has been transferred to the money power of the Corporatocracy, Presidential powers and the Constitution are only quaint reminders of the past.

December 14, 2013 at 2:45 a.m.
librul said...

Chris Hedges lays it out ...

December 14, 2013 at 9:52 a.m.
librul said...

...and trying to make the circus that American government has become 'Obama's fault' is ridiculous on its face Mikey.

Thinking Americans should only fault him for campaigning on a platform of reform and recovery from the messes Bush made and making populist promises he obviously knew he had no intention to keep - THOSE have been his greatest political feats of deception.

Things that ARE his fault include extending America's immoral corporate wars for oil; giving racist Israel billions; authoring 'kill lists' putting MORE blood on all our hands; sending his drone armies to (oops) kill innocent people in wedding parties furthering Bush's destruction of America's standing among industrialized nations; doing NOTHING to prosecute the fiscal criminals on Wall Street but rather inviting them into his administration as 'trusted advisers'; saying NOTHING about the fascist takeover of one of America's major cities (Detroit) where worker pensions are looted while $400 million is pissed away on a hockey arena; initiating NO JOBS PROGRAMS to invigorate our economy. The Koch's love it the way it is and so, apparently, it must remain so.

In reality, he has actually done little more than take orders from the corporate elite of the country and thus dramatically exposed his impotence as a leader. I enthusiastically voted for him once but I will never, ever vote for his feckless party again, EVER!

December 14, 2013 at 12:01 p.m.
fairmon said...

librul said...

The Koch's love it the way it is and so, apparently, it must remain so.

I doubt they like it, they prefer a limited and small government but George Soros certainly approves. Valery Jarrett, enough said?

December 15, 2013 at 4:46 a.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

The Koch's are "libertarians" only because a weak government is less able to thwart their drive for maximum wealth. No troubling regulations or laws or failing that, no intrusive enforcement of same.

December 15, 2013 at 5:47 p.m.
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