Archive for March, 2009

Presidents from Monroe to Obama have used Signing Statements.

Presidents from Monroe to Obama have used Signing Statements.

For my last article I explored the issue of Executive Orders and the Executive Branch.  The bookend to this subject is something a bit more controversial: Signing Statements.  According to The American Presidency Project, Signing Statements are:

“Often signing statements merely comment on the bill signed, saying that it is good legislation or meets some pressing needs.  The more controversial statements involve claims by presidents that they believe some part of the legislation is unconstitutional and therefore they intend to ignore it or to implement it only in ways they believe is constitutional.”

Just as Executive Orders have not always been known as such, the same is true with Signing Statements.  In 1822 President James Monroe issued what we today call a Signing Statement saying that “he had resolved what he saw as a confusion in the law in a way that the thought was consistent with his constitutional authority.”

Click to continue reading “Signing Statements and the Presidency”

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Pretty nifty graphic there, eh? I figured with all the talk about “isms” and their misuses and abuses in the media, government, and the blogosphere,  I would cover them here.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, they are capitalism, communism, fascism, marxism, and socialism. Please note, these are in alphabetical order – so as not to imply favoritism to any of these philosophies.  While everyone I have come across seems to understand the basic principles behind capitalism (whether they agree or disagree) the primary confusion seems to be between the other four.  There are some similarities, but they are distinct philosophies.

The “isms” will be presented in alphabetical order as well.  The way I will lay this out is to first give you the actual definition of the term and I will follow that up with a brief discussion regarding the origins and the individuals instrumental for advancing these philosophies.

I will give you fair warning – this is a fairly lengthy post.  However, it is well worth your time to read it.  I guarantee you will learn more about these “isms” than you ever thought you knew.  I guarantee you will have a clearer understanding of the “isms” and will be able to use them in a more scholarly manner and will have the tools necessary to correct those who only think they understand them.

Capitalism as defined by Merriam-Webster’s is:

An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

Click to continue reading “The “isms” of Economies and Government”

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Last weekend, over 5,000 people gathered in Cincinnati to protest the bailouts and multi-trillion dollar spending in Washington in a Modern Day Boston Tea Party. Michelle Malkin reports that this is the beginning of a growing revolutionary movement. “The tax-paying rebels are not going away. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, March 7, an estimated 500 protesters gathered for a Tea Party at Titletown Brewing. Similar Tea Parties have been held in Seattle, Denver, Mesa, Arizona, Olathe, Kansas and in other cities around the country but the Cincinnati protest is by far the largest one yet.

The Tea Party concept, of course, gets its name from the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773 when colonial Americans said to George III of England that the colonists would not accept any further taxes imposed by the Crown unless they had representation in Parliament and were able to speak on and vote on all issues. The colonists just wanted a seat at the decision table. When George III denied the colonists that seat, revolution was all but assured.

Strangely, as citizens of the United States with elected representatives in Congress, we find ourselves in a position very similar to colonial Americans almost 250 years ago. While we elect our representatives and senators and technically their votes reflect our wishes, increasingly they pass legislation and increase taxes without checking with their constituents.

Click to continue reading “Nationwide Tea Party”

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In a Representative Democracy such as the United States, most people are familiar with what a law is, many people know how a bill differs from a law, but most probably do not understand what an Executive Order is.  Surely a week does not pass that it is not reported someplace that the President of the United States either signed an Executive Order to put into place a new policy or to rescind a previous one.  The situation can be confusing because the President of the United States is generally not understood to be someone who makes law.

The President of the United States is the head of the Executive Branch and he or she has some explicit powers and some gray ones.  The president can, for example, lead the country in making decisions regarding foreign affairs, nominate individuals for the Supreme Court, or in the role as “commander-in-chief ” lead the military.  But the president’s authority is not absolute as any treaty he or she negotiates with a foreign power must still be approved by Congress, nominees to the Supreme Court must be confirmed by the Senate, and any troop deployments over 60 days must be authorized by Congress due to the War Powers Resolution.  So, while the power of the president seems great it is, like virtually every other area of the U.S. government, subject to checks and balances.  One area in which the president can have a great deal of power is in the area of the Executive Order.

Click to continue reading “Executive Orders and the Law”

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Here at Inside Government our mission is to help explain and provide insight into how our government works and to help empower citizens to take action by providing tools to contact representatives or sometimes just to raise another voice.

Sadly, it is becoming increasingly common that when citizens do take action–when first time letter writers decide to contact their representatives such as over the first $800 Billion Bailout last October or when people like me who blog about the state of our government and the actions of our elected leaders–our elected representatives feel it’s acceptable to whip out a form letter and send it off via email or postal mail; in most cases totally ignoring everything that we had to say in our letter, and that we took time out of our busy schedules to write.

Such is the case with a recent letter I sent off to my State Representative in Michigan, Gail Haines. But before I get to that letter and Representative Haines’ response, some background. Gail Haines is a Republican, and I voted for her to represent my district because her predecessor was unresponsive to the needs of us living in Michigan’s 43rd District. I was also inspired by Haines’ campaign and what she promised the residents of our district. Unfortunately, she has proven to be no different than her predecessors, no different from any other politician, and thus, even a bigger disappointment.

Click to continue reading “When Representatives Don’t Represent Constituents”

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