The Power of the Purse

us-uk_flag_408x212 (1)We’ve been hearing quite a lot out of Washington about the power of the purse, haven’t we? We’ve also been hearing about how the Republican only have one half of one-third of the government. I’m so tired of their whining I could spit. Why? That 1/3 of 1/2 is arguably the most important thing in keeping a free people free. Quite a few people quite literally died to give them that power of the purse, that they like to claim is so useless. What am I talking about?

This. The sole right to write revenue bills, which the Constitution gives to the House of Representatives, was inherited from the House of Commons. This right is the one that brought King John to sign Magna Charta, which is where Parliament derives the right. The exercise of this right by the Commons was one of the main causes of The English Civil War which eventually cost Charles I his head. Parliamentary supremacy in the UK can be dated from 2 July 1644, when Prince Rupert overreached and lost the North for Charles, thus paving the way for Cromwell. And when it became time to restore the monarchy, it could not be done until parliament was reconstituted. Over the centuries that power was vested in the House of Commons, and that fact is why Great Britain is governed by the Executive in Parliament.

Our founders chose to organize the government slightly different but, the purse held by the House of Representatives, is the same one that Parliament used to Break King John, to kill King Charles I, and to replace James II with William and Mary, with the English Bill of Rights making the monarchy expressly at the pleasure of the commons.

This is the power that Boehner finds so useless in attempting to curb a wannabe king in the White House. I submit the power is plenty although the arm that wields it may be lacking  Somehow I don’t see the strength of the great parliamentarians of Britain (or America) when I look at the Speaker.

And make no mistake, it is exactly the same battle. Over at Power Line, Professor Hamburger started a series yesterday, on his book on Administrative Law, you need to be reading this series, in the opening he has shown already, how Administrative Law is nothing more or less than the return of absolute power. The power of the executive to act on his own,

Here’s a bit:

In reality, administrative power has a much older and darker history. Far from a novel and modern response to modernity, it revives what used to be called prerogative or absolute power. Put more concretely, it revives extralegal power. It thus is exactly what constitutional law developed in order to prohibit.

Up through the seventeenth century, English kings repeatedly sought to govern their subjects through extralegal edicts. As early as the Middle Ages, English kings were expected to rule through the law–through acts of Parliament and through the acts of the law courts. Far from rejecting rule through the law, monarchs generally liked the legitimacy of this regular mode of governance.

At the same time, however, kings often had difficulty securing the statutes they wanted from Parliament. They therefore often sought to rule not through law, but extralegally, through binding proclamations, regulations, or decrees. They also frequently attempted to adjudicate not through the law courts, but through prerogative tribunals, such as the king’s council, the Star Chamber, and various commissions.

This power exercised not through law, but through other edicts, lacked the legitimacy of law, and kings and their lawyers therefore defended it as an alternative mode of governance. In particular, they increasingly justified it as a prerogative or absolute power. Of course, this extralegal power was the personal power of a king, not the bureaucratic power of a state, and it therefore was not yet administrative, but otherwise this prerogative power was little different from contemporary administrative power.


And so we see that John Boehner find a power that was forged by dint of blood and war over the centuries from the Kings of England, is not enough power for him to stop a two-bit agitator from Chicago. Personally, I don’t think the power is the problem, I think the problem is with the arm that wields the power.

But that’s just me, of course.

But perhaps the barons at Runnymede, and the Parliamentary Army at Marston Moor 370 years ago yesterday, and the delegates at Philadelphia 238 years ago were wrong, and Kings John, Charles I, and George III were right?

I really don’t think so, I just think they were opposed by better men.

Boko Haram: the Illusion of Clean Hands, and the End of Americans in Space

MichelleObamaBringBackOurGirlsThis is an outstanding article and it links through to more outstanding articles. I heartily recommend them all, I wish I was a good enough thinker and/or writer to produce these. Anyway, see you on the other side.

Grim has an interesting post up on the much ballyhoo’d photo of the First Lady’s recent foray into hashtag diplomacy. In it, he responds to a piece by Mark Steyn pointing out the yawning gap between political rhetoric and policy:

Contempt may well be warranted, but not for the failure to deploy special operators into this.

…You can’t drop a SEAL team if you don’t know where to drop them, and we most likely don’t have any idea. That’s not contemptible. It’s a fact of the art of war.

The right reason to feel contempt is at the posture, which makes our nation look weak and helpless. We probably can’t rescue these girls in a Hollywood-style raid, but we could wipe this group off the face of the earth in a few hours if we were willing to kill a lot of innocent people too. We could wipe them out in weeks, with less danger to innocents, if we were willing to deploy the 1st Cavalry Division for that purpose with a very loose set of ROE.

If we don’t do those things, it’s because we are choosing not to do them. It won’t do for the White House to beg, plead, or scold, or make sad faces in front of a camera.

Take responsibility for your choice.

via Villainous Company: Boko Haram and the Illusion of Clean Hands.

And that is what I find so contemptible about this whole hashtag thing. Grim is right, when done by Hollywood celebrities and average people it can be considered almost a form of “speaking truth to power” and in that sense, is good.

But when Michelle Obama and even more David Cameron stand there looking sappy with their signs. Just who in the hell do they think the are trying to persuade? They are “The Man”, although I suspect they are reluctant to admit it to themselves, it implies that they are responsible for many things, and they don’t want that to be true. But it is true, Elections have consequences. Now it up to the two of you, largely whether 276 Nigerian Christian teenage girls will live in freedom, live in slavery, or die. You, Barack, you wanted the job, you got it, you get the responsibility. Just like you are responsible for every person who dies because of Obamacare. Your policies, in great part, emboldened Boko Haram to commit this outrage. You, Obama, no one else, you are the captain of the ship, you bear responsibility.

th (1)The same is true for poor David Cameron, only more so. In a very real sense these are his girls, they are Nigerians and thus in a sense British, just like the Falklanders that Maggie restored to freedom all those years ago. Just like those Pakistanis that whole British and American armies fought to free from Imperial Japan.

Those who seek and find great prestige, always find that it comes with great responsibility. If you shirk the responsibility, you will find the prestige, and your honor as well, has left with it. And so has whatever share of manhood you had. Sad, really, for our so-called leaders. Sadder for us who are being so poorly led. Saddest of all for those girls in the Niger, and their dead brothers whom we have ignored. When great powers are led by small men, there is little protection for any of us, and soon they shall no longer be great powers either.

In other news, because of our intrepid stand in the Ukraine, Russia has announce that we will no longer be welcome in the (approximately 85% American built) International Space Station., Nor will they ferry our astronauts, after 2020. And they will quit selling us the rocket engines that we use to launch military satellites.

Soft power, it’s what for dinner.

Remember this.

Yeah, enjoy. That America died a few years ago, about 2008, if I recall. But we’ll be fine as long as China keeps selling us electronics for our defense department.

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Apathy in the Executive

English: Lech Walesa in 2009.

English: Lech Walesa in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the last few years, I’ve said some fairly harsh things about Peggy Noonan. Part of that is because I expect a lot from her. Anybody who could have written Reagan’s Pointe du Hoc speech for the 40th Anniversary of D-Day; knows enough not to be taken in by the Cult of Obama™. And in truth, when she gets out of Manhattan, and brings her A game, there are few better. Apparently she went to the canonization the other day, and this was the result.


Friends and I kept seeing groups of Poles who’d taken planes or 20-hour bus rides to be here for the canonization of John Paul II. They did not look wealthy. A lot of them wouldn’t have had tickets to the big Mass because the Vatican kept saying there were no tickets. (In fact there were, and they were thoughtfully color-coded.) A lot of them knew they’d spend a rainy night on the floor of a church or, some of them, wrapped in plastic parkas as they slept on the street on yoga mats they carried on their backpacks. Many would watch the proceedings on a Jumbotron in a piazza far from St. Peter’s. They didn’t care. They came anyway because they loved him. He was enmeshed in their lives, and whether they’d known him or not they felt enmeshed in his. Lech Walesa, at an American reception, seemed to speak for them when I asked how he felt to see his old friend elevated. “I feel I will have a friend in Heaven to greet me if I get there,” he said.

In the days before and after the canonization, I couldn’t help reflect on what a leader is, and how it is that great leaders engender gratitude, loyalty and love.

You have to stand for something. You have to suffer for it. (John Paul was shot and almost killed, and he spent the last third of his pontificate in constant physical distress. He kept showing up anyway.) You have to be brave. (He wasn’t afraid of any earthly power, not even the Soviet Union.) You have to stand by your beliefs as long as you know they are right; you have to speak and write the truth. [...]

She’s obviously right, and she should know better than most, after all she spent the Reagan years in the White House, and did a good job of capturing Reagan in her speechwriting. There’s considerable more there that you should read. And there is this further down in the column.

To be in Europe is to realize, again and at first hand, that America has experienced a status shift. Europeans know we are powerful—we have the most drones and bombs and magic robot soldiers—but they don’t think we are strong. They’ve seen our culture; we exported it. The Internet destroyed our ability to keep under wraps, at least for a while, our embarrassments. People everywhere read of our daily crimes and governmental scandals. The people of old Europe thought we were great not only because we were wealthy but because we were good. We don’t seem so good now. And they know we’re not as wealthy as we were.

via Apathy in the Executive –

And you know, I suspect she is exactly right here. We’ve never been exactly shy about putting our troubles right in the show window. A Canadian commentator during the Watergate mess, many years ago commented on that tendency of ours. If you’re my age, you probably remember it, it was widely republished here. If not, here it is.

And you know, he proved pretty much correct, but we didn’t really get back on track till the ’80s. Now, we publicize our problems even more, not least because of the internet, which makes us look even worse, but if we work through it, it can make the recovery even swifter, than it was then.

But you know, as do I, that our problems this time are not external, they are internal. Are we still the traditional free American, or have we turned into a bunch of statists no different from our European cousins. You know the ones, those who didn’t have the drive our ancestors did for a better life and for freedom. Like so many things, time will tell.

But I have to tell you, I’m far less confident in my countrymen than I was in the ’70s.  Then I had no doubt that we would come roaring back, now I find myself doubting it, and strongly too.

If that is so, it will be a sad end to the dream

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Why Won’t The GOP Let Us Have a Normal Debate? Why!?

Obama greets Harkin the day after healthcare b...

Obama greets Harkin the day after healthcare bill passed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Jonah Goldberg has an article up at National Review Online. In it he makes the point that many, many establishment Republican are carrying water for the lying methods used by the Democratic party (exclusively) to foist this abortion of a health care bill on us. Enjoy


Greg Sargent thinks it’s unseemly and ill-mannered for Republicans to focus on the fact that a great many people are losing their health insurance because of Obamacare. He does make a few very reluctant concessions. For instance:

Critics of the law are right to ask whether it is having an adverse impact on these millions of Americans. And the White House could have been clearer in laying the groundwork for this political argument: It wasn’t sufficient to say people who like their plans will be able to keep it, which is narrowly untrue.


And this:


Well, let’s see if we can lift the veil of mystery. For starters, Obama’s statements were not  ”narrowly untrue.”  They were broadly, knowingly and entirely untrue. He repeated them over and over again, often straight into the camera. It’s nice that Greg Sargent concedes now that the president “could have been clearer.” But “could have been clearer” implies that he was a little clear about how this would work and just didn’t clarify enough. The truth is the complete opposite. He wasn’t even deliberately unclear. He was clearly dishonest. Obama was stridently deceitful. Seriously, watch this video compilation of Obama’s repeated and vociferous statements about “keeping your plan” and tell me he was just failing to be sufficiently clear that millions of people wouldn’t be able to keep their plans:

This raises a larger problem about the wonkosphere. Ross Douthat is right when he tweets:

“Furor over ‘if you like your plan …’ is a reminder to everyone in Wonkland (where everyone knew it was BS) that most ppl don’t live here.”

I agree that everyone in wonkland knew it was BS. But what does it say about the liberal wonks that they either never said so when the legislation was being debated or said so very quietly under their breaths. I’m genuinely curious, did Sargent or his colleagues at the Washington Post report that what Obama was saying — never mind the impression he was leaving — was a lie, or even “narrowly untrue”? I mean did they report it when it might have hurt the law’s chances of passage, not afterwards when all lies are retroactively absolved as the price for social progress. 

Indeed, what is so infuriating to many of us is that is that now that it’s the law of the land, Obamacare supporters act as if all of the lies were no big deal and no serious person believed them anyway. But as anyone can tell you, if Obama had been honest about the trade-offs in his signature piece of legislation, it would never have become his signature piece of legislation. So please, don’t tell me the lies don’t matter.

Indeed, this might help unravel the mystery for Sargent. Republicans (or at least a great, great many of them) know that this law glided to passage with tracks greased with b.s.[...]

And now, when the Democrats’ lies are proving politically inconvenient, we’re told that if Republicans were smart, they’d accept the law and engage in a sober conversation about the very real trade-offs in the law liberals lied about for years. 

I’m not arguing that the GOP shouldn’t capitulate to the law simply out of spite (though spite is underrated in this circumstance if you ask me). [...]


Quite a lot more at Why Won’t The GOP Let Us Have a Normal Debate? Why!? | National Review Online. Go there



Karma: The Syrian Edition

From: the Daily Mail

Well, representative government strikes again.

The United States, no, of course not, the United Kingdom

You see, “call me Dave” Cameron’s government forced him to take the Syrian intervention to Parliament. This in the country where Barack Obama has or is doing the following:

  1. Siding with Argentina over the Falkland Islands
    This has remained the top insult for four years running. For sheer offensiveness it’s hard to beat the Obama administration’s brazen support for Argentina’s call for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, despite the fact that 255 British servicemen laid down their lives to restore British rule over the Islands after they were brutally invaded in 1982.
  2. Snubbing the funeral of Lady Thatcher
    Incredibly, the Obama presidency declined to send a single serving official from Washington to attend the Iron Lady’s funeral in St. Paul’s Cathedral in April. While the United States was represented by former Secretaries of State George Schultz and James A. Baker III, the only American official present was Barbara Stephenson, charges d’affaires and acting ambassador at the US Embassy in London.
  3. Holding up a Senate Resolution honouring Lady Thatcher
    Disgracefully, Senate Democrats – key Congressional allies of President Obama, representing his own party – held up a Senate resolution honouring the life and legacy of Margaret Thatcher for several days, before it was finally passed unanimously the day before her funeral.
  4. Lecturing Britain against leaving the EU
    The Obama administration has attempted to intervene on several occasions over the past few months on the issue of British membership of the European Union. In an interview with Adam Boulton on Sky News, outgoing US Ambassador to London, Louis Susman, made it clear that Washington is firmly opposed to Britain leaving the EU
  5. Throwing Churchill out of the Oval Office
    It is hard to think of a more derogatory message to send to the British people within days of taking office than to fling a bust of Winston Churchill out of the Oval Office and send it packing back to the British Embassy – not least as it was a loaned gift from Britain to the United States as a powerful display of solidarity in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
  6. Placing a “boot on the throat” of BP
    The Obama administration’s relentless campaign against Britain’s largest company in the wake of the Gulf oil spill was one of the most damaging episodes in US-UK relations in recent years, with 64 percent of Britons agreeing at the time that the president’s handling of the issue had harmed the partnership between the two countries according to a YouGov poll. The White House’s aggressive trashing of BP, including a threat to put a “boot on the throat” of the oil giant, helped wipe tens of billions of pounds from its share value, directly impacting the pensions of millions of Britons.
  7. Using a State Dinner for the British Prime Minister as a campaign event
    In March 2012, the White House used an official state dinner for David Cameron to reward over 40 top Obama re-election campaign financiers with coveted seats at the taxpayer-funded banquet.
  8. DVDs for the Prime Minister
    This insult has featured in all four editions, not least because it remains a powerful example of breathtaking diplomatic ineptitude that would have shamed the protocol office of an impoverished Third World country. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was treated extremely shabbily when he visited the White House in March 2009, and was sent home with an assortment of 25 DVDs ranging from Toy Story to The Wizard of Oz – which couldn’t even be played in the UK
  9. Insulting words from the State Department
    The mocking views of a senior State Department official following Gordon Brown’s embarrassing reception at the White House in March 2009 says it all:
    There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.
  10. Calling France America’s strongest ally
    In January 2011, President Obama held a joint press conference at the White House with his French counterpart, gushing with praise for Washington’s new-found Gallic friends, declaring: “We don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people.” *

So, what happened? He lost 285 votes to 272.

As Paul Revere might say, The Redcoats are NOT coming.”

The thing is, for all that the British Parliament is often an undisciplined zoo during debate, especially as compared with the sedate US House of Representatives, voting is a very disciplined activity, voting against your party can often abruptly end your career.

But in this case an entire string of Tory members spoke against the operation.

From: The Daily Mail

The Archbishop of Canterbury said this:


And apparently the administration has lied about the intelligence as well From the Daily Caller via Atlas Shrugs**

The Obama administration has selectively used intelligence to justify military strikes on Syria, former military officers with access to the original intelligence reports say, in a manner that goes far beyond what critics charged the Bush administration of doing in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war.The doctored report was leaked to a private Internet-based newsletter that boasts of close ties to the Israeli intelligence community, and led to news reports that the United States now had firm evidence showing that the Syrian government had ordered the chemical weapons attack on August 21 against a rebel-controlled suburb of Damascus.

The doctored report was picked up on Israel’s Channel 2 TV  on Aug. 24, then by Focus magazine in Germany, the Times of Israel, and eventually by The Cable  in Washington, DC.

According to the doctored report, the chemical attack was carried out by the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian Army, an elite unit commanded by Maher al-Assad, the president’s brother.

However, the original communication intercepted by Unit 8200 between a major in command of the rocket troops assigned to the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division, and the general staff, shows just the opposite.

The general staff officer asked the major if he was responsible for the chemical weapons attack. From the tone of the conversation, it was clear that “the Syrian general staff were out of their minds with panic that an unauthorized strike had been launched by the 155th Brigade in express defiance of their instructions,” the former officers say.

According to the transcript of the original Unit 8200 report, the major “hotly denied firing any of his missiles” and invited the general staff to come and verify that all his weapons were present.

Read the rest

This has happened in the United Kingdom at least once before

From: The Daily Mail


The interesting part here is that Cameron submitted his plan to parliament and will abide by the result. In the British system whether that is required is problematical. Under the American constitution it is required beyond doubt. From Ilya Somin

The answer is that in founding-era terminology war could be “declared” either by formal announcement or by military action initiating hostilities. John Locke’s classic Two Treatises of Government from the late 17th century referred to “declar[ing] by word or action.” Blackstone and Vattel, two of the 18th century legal writers most influential in America, also used “declare” in this way…***



The British government seems to understand that it is a bad idea to enter a war without a broad political consensus behind the decision. His actions are in sharp contrast to the Obama administration’s unwillingness to seek congressional authorization for its war in Libya or for a possible US military intervention in Syria. This, despite the fact that the need for legislative authorization under Britain’s unwritten constitution is probably less clear than it is under Article I of the US Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive authority to declare war. ****


There is a fair amount of hand wringing going on in Britain about the state of the alliance, personally I suspect they have just strengthened it. I believe America is smart enough to realize that we want allies that are wise enough to think about things even when we are not. And perhaps even offer us an example of how a free people govern themselves. As for the alliance, I think Churchill covered that long ago.

It is not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future. Still, I avow my hope and faith, sure and inviolate, that in the days to come the British and American peoples will for their own safety and for the good of all walk together side by side

in majesty, in justice, and in peace.


*Nile Gardiner in the Daily Telegraph.


*** Originalism and the Constitutionality of Military Intervention in Syria

**** British Parliament Votes Against Military Intervention in Syria


Some congratulations | All Along the Watchtower

Cropped screenshot of Gary Cooper from the tra...

Cropped screenshot of Gary Cooper from the trailer for the film High Noon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jess was kind enough on the Fourth to wish us Rebels a happy birthday. I’ve found in chatting with her that her daddy got to know us a bit back in that little fracas back in the forties, and I think, she thinks we’re pretty decent folk. And I’ll have to admit that I think the Brits are just all right as well. But she seems to have this funny feeling that we still believe (like she does) in honor, and I like to think she’s right.

She also thinks that our movies did a good job of portraying, if not our history, our ethical universe, maybe.

Here is what she said about us:


Then of course, it being 4th July, there is the matter of wishing all my many American readers a happy Independence day (and to note that I am sure many of you will be celebrating it when the current incumbent of the White House departs). We hear much criticism of America, quite a bit of it, it seems, from the President himself, but for so many of us it remains that rarest of things – a country which embodies an ideal – a shining city of a hill. If we all feel disappointed when America fails to live up to its ideals, that’s because unlike most countries, we think the USA should do so, indeed, perhaps naively, we expect it to.

Without it, who knows whether Europe would be free now? Without it, could the USSR have been defeated?  If it was not there, what state would Christianity be in? It contributes so much to the intellectual and cultural life of the world; some of that is bad, much more is good.  It remains a country where men and women expect to be able to make their way without too much reliance on the State, and the attempts by the latter to take a bigger role, are met with far more resistance there than anywhere else on earth. Freedom is more than a word to the American.

I was brought up to admire America, and I still, if pushed, think of America as a kind of cross between John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper (so you can see the films I was brought up on). So, on its anniversary – HAPPY BIRTHDAY USA – and my prayers for the great Republic, and thanks that it is there.

God Bless America!

Some congratulations | All Along the Watchtower.

Most of you know that on Saturday, I tend to post, shall we say, less heavy articles, and this is no exception. It’s also my way to say to Jess, and to the rest of our friends around the world, that yes, we really do, many of us believe in our old standards, and we are very pleased to be held to them. Without our friends, we would be a much poorer people because we really are the whole world, all mixed up together.

And a bit of Gary Cooper, to remind us all, of who we are, or at least aspire to be.

And a reminder that nothing in this movie says that a Englishman (or woman) can’t be every bit as much of a Virginian.

[And just for fun, I'll sign this the way some of the first readers of this blog still refer to me]

Thanks, Jess,



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