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Checks and balances

By Dr. Robert Owens
web posted June 22, 2009

In March of 1917 as part of the swirling aftermath of the First World War starving peasants, unpaid factory workers and disillusioned soldiers overthrew the Czar, the absolute autocrat of the Russian Empire.  In November of 1917 the Communist Bolsheviks overthrew the proto democrats and in July 1918 they killed the last Czar and his family ending the 300 year Romanov dynasty but that wasn't the end of czars.

Given the left's history it is interesting to see the victorious leader of our own November Revolution appointing not one but many Czars to rule over Omerica.  This proliferation of Czars wasn't started by the current occupant of the Rainbow Throne.  Ill-advised presidents before him started the process but the man from Chicago is taking it to a completely new level. 

For over 150 years the Senate jealously guarded its power to confirm or reject presidential advisors. This was one of the checks and balances built into our Constitution.  In tune with its purpose of limiting government so that the citizens of the United States could live free without the fear of tyranny these checks and balances were cunningly devised to stop any one branch of government from becoming too powerful.  Starting with FDR the presidents began to use emergencies such as recessions, wars and natural disasters to circumvent this process by appointing Czars.  These Czars are presidential appointees who take and hold office completely at the president's discretion with no congressional confirmation and no congressional oversight.

At first it was the extreme nature of the situations such as WWII that led Congress to meekly accept this radical extension of executive power.  The history of the English Speaking people has stood out among the histories of the world since King John signed the Magna Carta in the fields of Runnymede in 1215 the first absolute monarch to admit that it was not by divine right that he ruled but by the sufferance of the people.  This trend moved by fits and starts until a Prime Minister elected by the majority party in Parliament truly ruled with the advice of ministers who were likewise elected by the people.  After our patriot fathers threw off the yoke of foreign control the Framers crafted the Constitution to perfect this transfer of power from one man rule to government of, by and for the people.  It was for the purpose of safe guarding these hard won rights that the system of checks and balances was devised and for 150 years this helped keep the ship of state from the shoals of tyranny. 

As stated earlier President Obama is not the first to make an end-run around the Constitution and congressional oversight through the use of Czars and the 111th Congress is not the first to abdicate its duty by allowing this practice to continue.  However, our currently reigning Democrat president has so over-reached that he's inspired the longest serving Senator, Democrat Robert Byrd to send him a two page letter in which he expresses his concern that the constantly multiplying Czar system "Can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances."  This is unprecedented.  Senator Byrd is not just the longest serving Senator he is also President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the fourth the in line of succession to the presidency according to the 25th Amendment.

In an administration that promised transparency Senator Byrd's words carry a sting of chastisement magnified by his years of political experience and personal historical knowledge.  And the fact that he is the ranking member of the President's own party deflects the charge of partisanship which would otherwise diminish their power. "At worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.  They have even limited access to the president by his own cabinet members.  As presidential assistants and advisers, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to cabinet officials, and to virtually anyone but the president.  They rarely testify before congressional committees, and often shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege. In too many instances, White House staff have been allowed to inhibit openness and transparency, and reduce accountability."

All the moves have been made to check-mate the other branches of government and radically alter the balance of power.  The Mighty O has unconfirmed unaccountable advisors running cabinet size programs.  He has the power to issue executive orders which carry the force of law.  He has the ability to interpret laws passed by Congress to mean the opposite of what Congress actually says through signing statements.  And he has the newly discovered ability to purchase controlling shares in private companies, directing them as to firing of CEOs the make-up of Boards, and even the amount of advertising they can run.  What's next extravagant private dates that cost the taxpayer huge sums of money?  Restore the Constitution!  Save the Republic! ESR

Dr. Robert Owens teaches History, Political Science, Religion, and Leadership for Southside Virginia Community CollegeContact Dr. Owens. © 2009 Robert R. Owens.  Dr. Owens is available for speaking engagements.


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