January 11, 2013
Dear President Obama:
Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden have said you are weighing using “executive action” to implement gun registration and licensing beyond even the ban on semi-automatic firearms proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein and others.
When the National Firearms Act passed in 1934, Congress still understood that it didn’t have the power under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution to regulate Title II weapons, so it imposed a tax – an exorbitant tax, perhaps, but still a tax. Since then, however, overbroad interpretations of its power to regulate “interstate commerce” have become the norm, and Congress now feels free to legislate gun laws.
IT’S CALLED ‘USURPATION OF POWER,’ MR. PRESIDENT
“usurpation: …the unlawful or violent seizure of a throne, power, etc.” – Webster’s Dictionary
Apparently, however, even congressional usurpation of power is no longer sufficient for you: What you now threaten violates Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution. Since you seem to have forgotten it, here it is:
“All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.”
Is your usurpation of power by circumventing the legislative process a bid to turn our Republic into an autocracy? What will be your next Executive Order? Will it give you another four – or perhaps forty – years in the White House?
IT’S NOT ABOUT GUNS, IT’S ABOUT FREEDOM
Do you expect the American people to take so lightly this assault on their freedom?
They won’t, Mr. President. Millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens will refuse to comply, and by so doing become criminals. But I suspect you know that, don’t you? Maybe that is exactly what you want because, as George Orwell noted in his book “1984,” government has no control over the law-abiding; it can only control people who violate existing law, such as it may be.
And what happens next, Mr. President? Do S.W.A.T. teams break into the homes of our citizens at night to confiscate arms and arrest offenders? Make no mistake: That is what enforcing this law will require.
And what happens when, inevitably, some resist? Do you honestly believe people will go peacefully into bondage? How many will die as the direct result of your actions?
There is no need to send the Secret Service to my door, Mr. President (although I suspect you might anyway). I am not advocating violence; I am merely saying what others are afraid to.
The real question, Mr. President, is whether you so hunger for power that you are willing to foment what might be the next American Revolution. Will that be your enduring legacy?
At the Battle of Thermopylae, King Leonidus I, facing demands by the numerically superior Persian army for the Spartans to surrender their arms, responded with what is now expressed as “Molon labe.”
It means, “Come and get them.”
Armatissimi e liberissimi,
F. Paul Valone II
President, Grass Roots North Carolina
Executive Director, Rights Watch International
- Biden: Obama Prepared to Use Executive Order on Gun Control (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Guns And Obama: The Stand (personalliberty.com)
- Assault on the Second Amendment (papundits.wordpress.com)
By: Peter Schiff Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The media is now fixated on an apparently new feature dominating the economic landscape: a “fiscal cliff” from which the United States will fall in January 2013. They see the danger arising from the simultaneous implementation of the $2 trillion in automatic spending cuts (spread over 10 years) agreed to in last year’s debt ceiling vote and the expiration of the Bush era tax cuts. The economists to whom most reporters listen warn that the combined impact of reduced government spending and higher taxes will slow the “recovery” and perhaps send the economy back into recession. While there is indeed much to worry about in our economy, this particular cliff is not high on the list.
Much of the fear stems from the false premise that government spending generates economic growth (for stories of countries experiencing real growth, see our latest newsletter). People tend to forget that the government can only get money from taxing, borrowing, or printing. Nothing the government spends comes for free. Money taxed or borrowed is taken out of the private sector, where it could have been used more productively. Printed money merely creates inflation. So the automatic spending cuts, to the extent they are actually allowed to go into effect, will promote economic growth not prevent it. Even most Republicans fall for the canard that spending can help the economy in general. But even those who don’t will surely do everything to avoid the political backlash from citizens on the losing end of any specific cuts.
The only reason the automatic spending cuts exist at all is that Congress lacked the integrity to identify specifics. Rest assured that Congress will likely engineer yet another escape hatch when it finds itself backed into a corner again. Repealing the cuts before they are even implemented will render laughable any subsequent deficit reduction plans. But politicians would always rather face frustration for inaction than outright anger for actual decisions. In truth though, only an extremely small portion of the cuts are scheduled to occur in 2013 anyway. If it comes to pass that Congress cannot even keep its spending cut promises for one year, how can they be expected to do so for ten?
The impact of the expiring Bush era tax cuts is much harder to assess. The adverse effects of the tax hikes could be offset by the benefits of reduced government borrowing (provided that the taxes actually result in increased revenue). But given the negative incentives created by higher marginal tax rates, particularly as they impact savings and capital investment, increased rates may actually result in less revenue, thereby widening the budget deficit.
In reality, the economy will encounter extremely dangerous terrain whether or not Congress figures out a way to wriggle out of the 2013 budgetary straightjacket. The debt burden that the United Stated will face when interest rates rise presents a much larger “fiscal cliff.” Unfortunately, no one is talking about that one.
The current national debt is about $16 trillion (this is just the funded portion…the unfunded liabilities of the Treasury are much, much larger). The only reason the United States is able to service this staggering level of debt is that the currently low interest rate on government debt (now below 2 per cent) keeps debt service payments to a relatively manageable $300 billion per year.
On the current trajectory the national debt will likely hit $20 trillion in a few years. If by that time interest rates were to return to some semblance of historic normalcy, say 5 per cent, interest payments on the debt would then run $1 trillion per year. This sum could represent almost 40 per cent of total federal revenues in 2012!
In addition to making the debt service unmanageable, higher rates would depress economic activity, thereby slowing tax collection and requiring increased government spending. This would increase the budget deficits further, putting even more upward pressure on interest rates. Higher mortgage rates and increased unemployment will put renewed downward pressure on home prices, perhaps leading to another large wave of foreclosures. My guess is that losses on government insured mortgages alone could add several hundred billion more to annual budget deficits. When all of these factors are taken into account, I believe that annual budget deficits could quickly approach, and exceed, $3 trillion. All this could be in the cards if interest rates were to approach a modest five per cent.
If the sheer enormity of the red ink were to finally worry our creditors, five per cent interest rates could quickly rise to ten. At those rates, the annual cost to pay the interest on the national debt could equal all federal tax revenues combined. If that occurs we will have to either slash federal spending across the board (including cuts to politically sensitive entitlements), raise taxes significantly on the poor and middle class (as well as the rich), default on the debt, or hit everyone with the sustained impact of high inflation. Now that’s a real fiscal cliff!
By foolishly borrowing so heavily when interest rates are low, our government is driving us toward this cliff with its eyes firmly glued to the rear view mirror (much as the new French regime appears to be doing). For years I have warned that a financial crisis would be triggered by the popping of the real estate bubble. My warnings were routinely ignored based on the near universal assumption that real estate prices would never fall. My warnings about the real fiscal cliff are also being ignored because of a similarly false premise that interest rates can never rise. However, if history can be a guide, we should view the current period of ultra-low rates as the exception rather than the rule.
Peter Schiff’s new book, The Real Crash: America’s Coming Bankruptcy – How to Save Yourself and Your Country is now available. Order your copy today.
For in-depth analysis of this and other investment topics, subscribe to Peter Schiff’s Global Investor newsletter. CLICK HERE for your free subscription.
- Democrats to Risk Fiscal Cliff by Targeting Top Earners (bloomberg.com)
- Lawmakers signal deep ‘fiscal cliff’ deadlock in Congress (mercurynews.com)
- Fitch Ratings keeps US at top ‘AAA’ credit rating (seattlepi.com)
The United States was born when rebellious colonists declared their independence from an imperial ruler who had vastly overstepped his bounds. “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States,” they wrote in their Declaration of Independence.
Today’s presidency lacks the regal air of George III. But imperialism is back, in a big way.
Last week, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum instructing U.S. immigration officials to use their “prosecutorial discretion” to create a policy scheme contrary to existing law, designed to implement legislation that Congress hasn’t passed.
The President himself has admitted he doesn’t have the authority to do this. “The idea of doing things on my own is very tempting, I promise you, not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how our system works,” he told Hispanic activists last year. “That’s not how our democracy functions.”
We can now see before us a persistent pattern of disregard for the powers of the legislative branch in favor of administrative decision-making without—and often in spite of—congressional action. This violates the spirit—and potentially the letter—of the Constitution’s separation of the legislative and executive powers of Congress and the President.
- Even though the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the President’s cap-and-trade plan, his Environmental Protection Agency classified carbon dioxide, the compound that sustains vegetative life, as a pollutant so that it could regulate it under the Clean Air Act.
- After the Employee Free Choice Act—designed to bolster labor unions’ dwindling membership rolls—was defeated by Congress, the National Labor Relations Board announced a rule that would implement “snap elections” for union representation, limiting employers’ abilities to make their case to workers and virtually guaranteeing a higher rate of unionization at the expense of workplace democracy.
- After an Internet regulation proposal failed to make it through Congress, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would regulate the Web anyway, even despite a federal court’s ruling that it had no authority to do so.
- Although Congress consistently has barred the Department of Education from getting involved in curriculum matters, the Administration has offered waivers for the No Child Left Behind law in exchange for states adopting national education standards, all without congressional authorization.
Likewise, the Administration has often simply refused to enforce laws duly enacted by Congress:
- Since it objects to existing federal immigration laws, the Administration has decided to apply those laws selectively and actively prevent the state (like Arizona) from enforcing those laws themselves.
- Rather than push Congress to repeal federal laws against marijuana use, the Department of Justice (DOJ) simply decided it would no longer enforce those laws.
- DOJ also has announced that it would stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act or defending it from legal challenge rather than seeking legislative recourse.
On Tuesday, the President invoked executive privilege to avoid handing over some 1,300 documents in an ongoing Congressional investigation. The Supreme Court has held that executive privilege cannot be invoked to shield wrongdoing. Is that what’s happening in this case? “Congress needs to get to the bottom of that question to prevent an illegal invocation of executive privilege and further abuses of power. That will require an index of the withheld documents and an explanation of why each of them is covered by executive privilege—and more,” Heritage legal scholar Todd Gaziano writes.
Earlier this year the President crossed the threshold of constitutionality when he gave “recess appointments” to four officials who were subject to Senate confirmation, even though the Senate wasn’t in recess. Gaziano wrote at the time that such appointments “would render the Senate’s advice and consent role to normal appointments almost meaningless. It is a grave constitutional wrong.”
There is no telling where such disregard may go next, but the trend is clear, and it leads further and further away from the constitutional rule of law.
The President has unique and powerful responsibilities in our constitutional system as chief executive officer, head of state, and commander in chief. Those powers do not include the authority to make laws or to decide which laws to enforce and which to ignore. The President – like judges or Members of Congress – takes an oath to uphold the Constitution in carrying out the responsibilities of his office.
Indeed, the President takes a unique oath, pledging he “shall faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” We don’t need a new Declaration of Independence, but we do need a President who will defend and vigorously exert his or her legitimate powers, recognizing that those powers are not arbitrary or unlimited.
Dr. Matthew Spalding is the Vice President for American Studies and Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at The Heritage Foundation. He is also the author of We Still Hold These Truths.
- Fast And Furious: Executive Privilege Is Illegitimate to Shield Wrongdoing (heritage.org)
- NAPOLITANO: Can Obama rewrite federal law? – Washington Times (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Cagle Post ” It’s Nice to be Emperor (mbcalyn.com)
- Obama’s policy strategy: Ignore laws (givemeliberty01.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s Assertion Of Executive Privilege And The Law (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Fast and Furious: Covering up the Death of a U.S. Agent (papundits.wordpress.com)
- King Barack (lewrockwell.com)
All of this noise out of Greece has taken attention away from the fastly approaching U.S. fiscal cliff: the end-of-year deadline that threatens to lop off an estimated 3 to 5 percentage points off of GDP growth in 2013.
Reinhart’s note discusses the timetable regarding the fiscal cliff:
Unfortunately, there is no clear timetable for action. Congress will deal with the situation when it is good and ready to do so. And, the lessons from similar experiences in recent years suggests that such action will occur at the last minute.
But as an economist who’s getting paid to make forecasts and opinions, he shares with us the key dates that he’ll be watching. Here’s his assesment:
[T]here is a strong likelihood that there will be a lame duck session of Congress following the November election. Ideally, legislators will reach agreement on a plan which avoids the 2013 fiscal cliff and, at the same time, addresses the unsustainable longer-term course of US fiscal policy. However, given the elevated degree of gridlock in DC and the likelihood that some degree of gridlock will remain no matter what the election outcome (it is mathematically impossible for either party to achieve a filibuster proof majority in the Senate), this is an awful lot to expect during a post-election session of Congress that may last six weeks or so at most. A more likely scenario might involve a short-term extension of the major budget provisions or delayed action until debt ceiling constraints help to force a compromise agreement in early 2013. Of course, the longer the delay, the greater the likelihood that policy uncertainty will negatively impact the real economy.
- Morgan Stanley Just Slashed Its US GDP Forecast And Warned Things Could Get A Lot Worse (businessinsider.com)
- CBO Warning: Recession Will Follow 2013 ‘Fiscal Cliff’ (theatlanticwire.com)
- Fiscal cliffs, multipliers, and the myth of central bank independence (economist.com)
There are plenty of obvious concerns about the use of domestic drones. Their use by law enforcement is expanding rapidly, and it’s only normal to be concerned about privacy laws. Even if you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place, with drones the size of hummingbirds, will you have a reasonable expectation of privacy on your own property, or even through your own windows? In the long run, what will constitute the need for surveillance? In Washington state it could be a nice new way to fine litterers.
Let’s not forget the original intent of this technology. Drones are used by our military to spy on, and to kill our enemies. Or at least, those we perceive to be our enemies, whether guilt has been proven or not, and with a callous disregard for collateral damage.
While it could be argued that some use of surveillance drones is reasonable; for example, border patrol or missing persons cases, how soon does it become difficult to draw the line? Are we there already?
Just this week members of Congress accused the EPA of using drones to conduct surveillance flights over Iowa and Nebraska farms. Though they were assured by the EPA that they are using only manned aircraft to check for violations of federal clean water laws, it does make one wonder about the right of the EPA to conduct this type of surveillance in the first place. Not to mention the fact that even Congress doesn’t know what the EPA is doing.
We have many large government agencies like this. The EPA might not actually be using drones to monitor your compliance with federal laws now, but how long until they are? With domestic drones getting smaller and easier to come by, it seems that it is only a matter of time. And if the EPA now, then who next? The FDA? It would be a lot easier for them to keep tabs on who you are selling your raw milk to, if they could only monitor everyone who comes and goes from your property.
Then there is the fact that law enforcement is already talking about arming drones with rubber bullets. Of course this is mainly for things like crowd control. But At some point do you look up at the drone flying over head and feel a sudden solidarity with citizens in Islamabad, wondering; am I next? Perhaps the idea seems a little far fetched now, but not so very long ago, the idea of drones surveying your neighborhood was also far fetched.
Welcome to our new reality.
James Madison once warned us that “the means of defense against foreign danger have always been the instruments of tyranny at home.”
Is doesn’t seem like wisdom to treat our government, who can so easily brush off the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians, as if they are somehow different people when it comes to surveillance here at home. We need to be vigilant about how this technology is used.
H.R. 5925, The Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, was recently introduced by Rep. Austin Scott, R-GA, “To protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones, and for other purposes.” The text of the bill is not available yet, but it would require the government to obtain warrants for surveillance purposes.The bill is currently bound up in judicial committee where many bills go – never to be heard from again. It’s a good start though, and a reminder that we can enact our own surveillance regulation in our own states. In the meantime, we should be asking our Congress men and women to support this kind of legislation that would protect our 4th amendment rights.
- Sen. Paul proposes bill protecting Americans from drone surveillance (thehill.com)
- Sen. Paul Introduces Bill to Protect Americans Against Unwarranted Drone Surveillance (ConservativeActionAlerts.com)
- EPA Drones, part 2 (nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com)
- Is EPA Using Drones Over Missouri? (stlouis.cbslocal.com)
- Public Intelligence identifies 64 aerial drone bases in the US (theverge.com)
- Why Is the EPA Using Drones to Spy on Cattle Ranchers in Nebraska and Iowa? (foxnewsinsider.com)
- Farmers vs. EPA – EPA now using drones for surveillance (revolutionarypolitics.tv)