A Reality Check on Executive Orders and the ‘Dictator Obama’ Myth

As we discussed yesterday, the congressional Republicans and the conservative entertainment complex has lost its collective shpadoinkle over President Obama’s slate of new executive orders, including a forthcoming order to raise the minimum wage for government contractors to $10.10.

Consequently, Glenn Beck declared the president to be “America’s first dictator.” Mark Levin suggested that Congress pass a resolution nullifying the executive orders, as if the president would ever sign such legislation.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) played the newly popular frivolous lawsuit card, and declared that House conservatives might try to sue the president. Bachmann said, “He may think he’s a king, he may declare himself king, but that’s not what he is under our Constitution.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted, “Mr. President we are a nation of laws & we are supposed to follow our #Constitution. You do not get to ‘act alone.’”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “Over and over again this president has disregarded the law, has disregarded the Constitution and has asserted presidential power that simply doesn’t exist and that ought to worry regardless of whether you agree with his policies or not.”

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) literally got up and walked out of the State of the Union address like Gary Oldman’s Shelly Runyon in The Contender, declaring, “I could not bear to watch as he continued to cross the clearly-defined boundaries of the Constitutional separation of powers.”

Harsh.

To repeat what we covered yesterday: President Obama has only signed 168 executive orders so far. This compares to 291 executive orders signed by the previous president. In fact, George W. Bush signed more orders in his first four years, 173, than President Obama has signed in just over five.

But that only tells part of the story. What about the content of the orders? Let’s review… [CONTINUE READING HERE]

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  • i_a_c

    Bob, this link to the article and the one on the Banter front page are broken.

    • GrafZeppelin127

      Yea.

  • Sabyen91

    “#Constitution”

    Just stop Rand.

  • beulahmo

    Bob, the [CONTINUE READING HERE] link isn’t working. This has happened before…is it a larger problem with the webpage design or something??

  • desertflower1

    Help! Dictator Obama must’ve messed with the intertubes…because…..Freedumb! It broke again….

  • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

    Whenever I listen to these wack-jobs calling our president a dictator, a communist or whatever or whatever dogwhistle, I always remember Assif Mandvi asking a right buffoon…”you know we can hear you don’t you?”

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Of course, we all know that this is an act. They’re not really this stupid and ignorant of what Executive Orders are, how they work, what they do and don’t do, what they mean and don’t mean, and how they fit in to a Constitutional democracy. They don’t really believe this “dictator” nonsense. Their target audience does. Their target audience is that stupid and ignorant. They’re counting on it.

    The GOP is not a political or governing party. It’s an improv act.

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      It’s an improv act.

      And a bad one at that.

      • GrafZeppelin127

        Actually, it’s a very good one. Considering how many people don’t realize it’s an act, how long it’s been going on, and how lucrative it is, I’d say the quality of the performance is exceptional.

        You might say it’s a very good improv act that’s being put on by very bad people for very bad reasons. But as improv acts go, it’s probably the best in history. After the Catholic Church.

        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          When I think of Improv, I tend to think of comedy and although they do sometimes make me laugh, it’s not funny haha entertaining at all. It’s deadly serious shit they’re playing with and should not be the subject of any “acting”. That all being said, you’re right. Many of them are acting for the camera and far too many people have bought into it. But some of them, the most dangerous kind, are the “true believers” (as Missliberties points to one below). No acting, just wide-eyed, foaming at the mouth faith hounds. Those people seriously worry me.

          • GrafZeppelin127

            Like I said; the audience doesn’t know it’s an act. Heck, look how many right-wingers think Colbert is serious.

          • Sean Richardson

            You’d be surprised; anybody who actually studies improv, even improvisational comedy, tends to put “making people laugh” very low on the list of what you’re supposed to focus on.

  • missliberties

    For evidence of what this kind of insincere bloviating creates, watch Tim Huelskamp being interviewed by Rachel Maddow. The guy is the definition of off the rails, over the cliff and down the rabbit hole.

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/43024_Rachel_Maddow_interviews_Tim_Huelskamp_about_SOTU_Huelskamp_Benghazis

    • missliberties

      The reason I highlighted this, is because this guy really really believes this stuff. It’s frightening to think these folks were elected to Congress.

  • Pel Abbott

    GOP = Drinking the Fox Swill daily. #Hacks

  • mikecz

    Executive orders for the most part are dictatorial, and remove congressional oversight/approval. Just because Obama did it less then Bush doesn’t make it any better, the issue here are the orders themselves, not who did what or how many times they did it.

    The argument you made has no meaning other then pointing out a hypocrisy. This is at the heart of the problem with politics today, no one addresses the actual issue, they just point out the other parties hypocrisy. You hated it when Bush did it, now Obama is doing it, but less, so, that makes it more bearable.

    We have to end to dichotomy of bullshit. Argue the issue, not the hypocrisy…

    http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/12/17/bush.nsa/

    The article above highlights the same bullshit, just from the other side, with a NSA name drop to top it off. Note Feingold’s comments about the “absurdity” of the order…

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      Executive Orders have been used and considered legal for a very long time. The hypocrisy IS the point and the fact that the Right isn’t addressing the actual issues IS the point. If you want to call Obama a dictator then you need to call every president who ever did an executive order a dictator. But the right (and the extreme left) hasn’t done that. They waited until a black Democratic man became President to start using such loaded terms. Funny the timing on that. We’d love to discuss the issues. We’ve BEEN discussing the issues. But the right is running around like a chicken with their head cut off screaming that the sky is falling. So, Bob is saying, let’s be rational, Pres. Obama is not a dictator, not even close, using a factual argument. So can we agree the President isn’t a dictator?

      • mikecz

        It’s almost comical… “They waited until a black Democratic man became President to start using such loaded terms. Funny the timing on that.” Check below.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/the-president-gets-his-wi_b_31963.html

        It’s almost comical…

        And yes, executive orders have been used for a long time, does that make them any less harmful? Marijuana has been illegal for a long time. “Long time” arguments fall under this category “Argumentum ad antiquitatem”

        for reference…

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

        • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

          You have no idea what you’re talking about. You clearly don’t understand what an executive order is.

          And, if you’re a liberal, we are in deep trouble.

        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          See Graf’s response to your idiotic assertion that Executive Orders aren’t constitutional or legal in and of themselves. You’re comical.

    • D_C_Wilson

      Executive orders are directives from the cheif executive to the agencies under his control about policy matters and how to implement the laws. They are not inherently dictatorial or abusive. Only when they direct agencies to violate the law or the Constitution are they an abuse of power.

    • GrafZeppelin127

      Executive orders for the most part are dictatorial, and remove congressional oversight/approval.

      Absolutely, positively, utterly, thoroughly, wholly, unequivocally, indisputably, totally, entirely, and in all other ways FALSE.

      False false false false false false false.

      F. A. L. S. E.

      Executive Orders are instructions given to Executive Branch agencies and Executive Branch officers, ordering them to do things or not do things, within the scope of their statutorily-granted authority. Federal statutes typically grant broad authority and discretion to Executive Branch agencies, officers and administrators to act, to promulgate regulations, to effectuate the law, and to generally carry out their designated functions. Executive Orders are directives from the President to Executive Branch agencies, officers and administrators to do their respective jobs in a particular way.

      What Executive Orders do not do, cannot do, and never have done, is operate directly upon any ordinary citizen. An Executive Order cannot compel an ordinary citizen to do anything, cannot prohibit an ordinary citizen from doing anything, cannot make any act or omission lawful or unlawful, cannot be directed at any ordinary citizen or group of citizens in any way. Executive Orders are directed at the Executive Branch, at people who work in the Executive Branch, in their capacity as Executive Branch officers and administrators.

      Executive Orders are not laws; they do not pretend to be laws, they do not masquerade as laws, they do not function as laws, they do not substitute for laws, they do not change, supersede or nullify laws, they do not function as laws.
      An Executive Order is the President telling the Executive Branch — i.e., people who work for him — and no one else — what to do and what not to do. That’s all it is.

      See my comment below about politicians counting on their target audience to be ignorant of what Executive Orders actually are, actually do and actually mean.

      • mikecz

        “within the scope of their statutorily-granted authority”

        Of late, these powers have been abused. I think that can be said with no argument.

        • GrafZeppelin127

          No, it cannot “be said with no argument”, because it is false. You cannot identify a single Executive Order issued in the last five years that does any of the things which I stated above an Executive Order cannot and does not do. Not one.

    • Sean Richardson

      Here is why your point comes off as stupid:

      You are saying “People criticized Bush’s executive orders, people are criticizing Obama’s, therefore they are equal.” But the actual criticisms themselves are completely different. Nobody anywhere claimed that Bush didn’t have the right or power to issue executive orders, as people like you are now arguing about Obama. People said that Bush didn’t have the right or power to issue that specific executive order, based on an actual Constitutional argument.

      So, yes, as long as you remove all context, the two things are comprable in a very shallow way because both involve criticizing executive orders. Good luck finding anything else they have in common.

      “no one addresses the actual issue”

      How is this a criticism of Obama legally issuing executive orders that actually address important issues when the side that is criticizing him for doing so is literally offering no solution for any of the issues he is addressing?

      • mikecz

        I did not say Executive Orders are illegal. Of late, they have been used in a dictatorial way, on both sides, and abused as such to pass laws that are unconstitutional.

        • GrafZeppelin127

          Of late, they have been used in a dictatorial way, on both sides, and abused as such to pass laws that are unconstitutional.

          To the extent that makes any sense at all, it is absolutely untrue.

          An Executive Order cannot be “used” (let alone “abused”) “to pass laws that are unconstitutional.” Laws can only be passed by Congress, and an Executive Order cannot compel Congress to pass any law (or to do anything else, for that matter). You cannot identify a single Executive Order that has ever been issued by any President in U.S. history that has ordered, directed or compelled Congress to act, let alone to “pass laws that are unconstitutional.” Not one.

    • GrafZeppelin127

      And as for the standard pre-adolescent “You hated it when Bush did it” whine, I can’t speak for anyone else, but if I “hated” anything “when Bush did it” in this context, it was what he was ordering his Executive Branch agencies, officers and administrators to do, not the fact that he was giving such orders in the abstract, as a matter of principle. You’re pretending there’s something inherently wrong with Executive Orders irrespective of their content, despite your disingenuous protestation to the contrary.

      What I (we?) also “hated” was Bush’s use of extra-constitutional “signing statements,” which are not the same thing as Executive Orders. A “signing statement” is an addendum to a piece of legislation signed by the POTUS, which the POTUS adds to the bill, in which he declares that he will not enforce or obey the subject law if he, unilaterally and without judicial review, deems it to be an improper limitation of his powers.

      Let’s shelve the meaningless and childish accusations of shoe-on-the-other-foot hypocrisy, shall we? I think there’s enough to go around.

      • mikecz

        He was abusing his power, just like every president before. Executive Orders in this sense can be dangerous. I am not a Republican, these guys are ass hats complaining about nothing, it’s the same old rhetoric and happens on both sides.

        Here, let me just grab one…say from 2012…

        http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-02-08/pdf/2012-3097.pdf

        “All property and interests in property of the Government
        of Iran, including the Central Bank of Iran, that are in the United States,
        that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come
        within the possession or control of any United States person, including
        any foreign branch, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported,
        withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in.”

        The above would seem like a small abuse of power, I did this without even searching, it was literally the first order I pulled.

        • GrafZeppelin127

          The above is in no way an abuse of power. Not even remotely. You either didn’t read it, have absolutely no idea what it says, have absolutely no idea how executive authority works, or have absolutely no idea what an “abuse of power” actually is.

          I’m also willing to bet that you’ve never even heard of, let alone read, any of the statutes (i.e., acts of Congress) cited in the very first paragraph:

          …International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112–81) (NDAA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code…

          Go read those statutes, study the case law interpreting same, then come back and explain how this Executive Order constitutes an “abuse of power.” I’ll wait.

          • mikecz

            Did you just use the NDAA of 2012 to support your point? That would be the one that allows for detainment of any citizen indefintely without a trial, among other things. I find that act to be appalling.

          • GrafZeppelin127

            I did not “use” anything to “support” anything. Your opinion of the NDAA is irrelevant, as is mine.

            Nice try, but don’t try to change the subject or evade the issue. The topic is not the NDAA. The topic is whether Executive Orders generally, or Executive Order 13599 in particular, constitutes an “abuse of power.”

            Read the statutes. All of them. Study the case law. Then come back and support your point.

          • mikecz

            Hold on, you brought the NDAA into this.

            So we are debating whether Executive Orders have been used throughout history in an unconstitutional way. By this I mean, in most cases the president will “abuse his power” and use the Executive order to “get things done.” He would overstep congress and issue an order. This I would consider abuse.

            FDR E.O. 9066. Internment Camps for Japanese Americans.

            Harry Truman E.O. 10340. Seized all privately owned steel mills.

            Actually, there is a pretty good article from Forbes that reviewed this order. Supreme court Justice…

            Justice Hugo Black, another Democrat, wrote the majority opinion invalidating the seizures. Black explained that an executive order (1) “must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself” and (2) an executive order is on dubious ground if it’s “incompatible with the express or implied will of Congress.”

            I would state that forcing Japanese Americans to live in controlled internment camps, seizing citizens private property, allowing for warrantless wiretapping as abusing the power of presidency. Is it allowable or “legal” to issue them, in some cases yes, but is it abusing one’s power, yes. The point here is they should rarely be used. When they are used, they should be as described above.

          • GrafZeppelin127

            I did not “bring the NDAA into this.” You brought the NDAA into this by citing/quoting/linking to an Executive Order that cited one section of the NDAA as statutory authority.

            Strike two.

          • GrafZeppelin127

            And just so I understand you correctly, your “proof” that (1) “in most cases the President will ‘abuse his power'” when issuing an Executive Order, that (2) “Of late, these powers have been abused”, and that (3) “Of late, [Executive Orders] have been used in a dictatorial way, … and abused as such to pass laws that are unconstitutional”, is to point to one Executive Order that was struck down by the Supreme Court as lacking legislative authority over sixty years ago.

          • mikecz

            Abuse of power does have a vague definition. I would associate it with unconstitutional orders, though “anything mikecz thinks is bad” is a pretty good definition.

            The point here is Executive Orders have been used to pass “laws” which generally require congressional approval, without congressional approval. Some of these “laws” have been unconstitutional. I don’t think 60 years really isn’t that long ago. The 2 listed are just 2 of the most egregious examples of “Executive Orders gone wild.”

            The president recently imposed economic sanctions on a country we are not at war with. I find that impairs my ability to trade with another in that country, which reduces my economic freedom. We can point to case law all day, cite supreme court cases, but, my question to you, do you think this is an appropriate move? Do you think it should be lawful? I know it doesn’t matter what “you or I think is bad,” but really, should a president be able to do this without congressional approval?

          • GrafZeppelin127

            No Executive Order has ever been used to “pass ‘laws’.” None, not one, never, ever. Even Truman’s Order seizing the steel mills was not “used to ‘pass “laws”‘”. It did not create a statute, nor compel Congress to do so, nor place an extra-Congressional statute on the books. It did what Executive Orders always do: direct an Executive Agency (in this case, the Secretary of Commerce) to act.

            FDR’s internment order was upheld buy the Supreme Court. See Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944)

            You’re changing the subject and evading the issue again, and in the process wasting my and everyone else’s time. You’re using your own personal subjective grievances, and apparent intense desire to feel heroically victimized, to validate a normative premise that the realities of law, the Constitution, history and current events demonstrate is completely, utterly, absolutely, entirely wrong.

            Executive orders for the most part are dictatorial, and remove congressional oversight/approval.

            False.

            Of late, [Executive Orders] have been used in a dictatorial way, on both sides, and abused as such to pass laws that are unconstitutional.

            False.

            Of late, these powers have been abused.

            False.

            [I]n most cases the president will “abuse his power” and use the Executive order to “get things done.” He would overstep [C]ongress and issue an order.

            False.

            [Executive Order 13599 represents an] abuse of power.

            False.

            False, false, false, false, false. You’ve offered not one single solitary fact to back up any of these statements or show that they are true in any sense, degree or respect. You’ve attempted to defend these indefensible statements by airing unrelated grievances, and various other deflections and evasions.

            I’ll just finish by quoting nicole, infra, and let others continue this discussion:

            You have no idea what you’re talking about.

            Q.E.D.

          • Rollo Tamasi

            That was beautiful. I’m very tempted to print this entire exchange.

          • GrafZeppelin127

            Please do. :)

  • RamOrgan

    I hope we can read the rest of the post sometime. Link still broken.

    • Christopher Foxx

      UPDATE: never mind.

      • RamOrgan

        Thanks … I saw your earlier reply but by the time I got back the link was working.