Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Constitutional Governance, For a Change

Recently, the chief political correspondent for The Colonel's Corner -- the Colonel -- sat down for a wide-ranging on-the-record conversation with Brenda Cannon Gregory (aka: the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda), the woman whose write-in candidacy for President is sweeping the nation like a cool breeze soothing a slumbering electorate in the midst of a hellish election nightmare.  What follows is the verbatim transcript of what one hopes will be the first of many such candid and illuminating conversations over the course of the next eight and one half years.

TCC:  "Mrs. Gregory, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions."

BCG: "My pleasure, Colonel.  And, call me 'Miss Brenda.'  I know we'll have to retrain you to call me 'Madam President' after the election, but for the time-being it will be less taxing on your pea-sized brain to keep it simple."

TCC:  "Uh, okay...  So, Miss Brenda, let's dispense with the pleasantries and get right to the subject.  How would you describe your philosophy for governance as President of the United States?"

BCG: "The Constitution; the whole Constitution; and nothing but the Constitution."

TCC:  "Would you care to elaborate on that?

BCG:  "Not particularly.  Besides, what part of those simple ten words is so hard to understand?"

TCC:  "Well..., I, uh...  Okay, um, well.., how, then, would you say that your governing philosophy differs from Barack Obama's?"

BCG:  "Who?  Oh, you mean Valerie Jarret's spokesperson.  Look, I'm not basing my campaign on the failures of the current administration.  I will say this for Mr. Obama, he reads out loud extremely well."

TCC:  "Will you be using a teleprompter in your speeches?"

BCG:  "Why?  None of my speeches will ever be longer than a minute or two.  If you can't make your point quicker than that, you don't have a 'point.'"

TCC:  "Makes sense."

BCG:  "Look, forty years living with the Colonel has trained me to keep it short and simple."

TCC:  "Heh, heh..., wait, what?"

BCG:  "Next question!"

TCC:  "Yes, ma'am!  Um...[the Colonel shuffles through his stack of notecards], okay, let's talk about what you see as your priorities as President."

BCG:  "The first constitutionally-mandated responsibility of the President, as chief executive, is faithful execution of the law as found specifically expressed in the Constitution, and as enacted by legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the President."  

TCC:  "Do you believe in the use of Executive Orders."

BCG:  "Only as a means to enforce a specifically expressed Constitutional requirement, or to enforce an Act of Congress.  Not to create law.  Any other use of Executive Orders is an expression of dictatorial powers not expressly given the President by the Constitution, regardless the well-meaning intent or efficacy of the order.  If I see something that I think needs to be done, that is not currently expressly authorized by legislation, I will work with the the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader to have legislation passed to address the need."

TCC:  "Miss Brenda, executive orders and bureaucratic regulations over the last three decades have resulted in trillions of dollars of cost to the American taxpayer..."

BCG:  "And that's what I'm talking about.  Look, I'm sure that the originator of every executive order and non-legislated regulation believes that they are doing good.  Some may even be able to prove that their idea, in the form of an order or regulation, satisfies a critical requirement or provides a solution to a pressing problem.   But, good intentions, or even proven effectiveness and efficiency is not an excuse for extra-constitutional activity by our Federal government.  That's what I mean when I say "...and nothing but the Constitution."

TCC:  "Are you saying that Congress would do a better job at regulation than a professional bureaucracy?"

BCG:  "No! Not at all.  But, that's not the point.  The point is, as our nation's founders meant when they went to war for, among others, the principle of "no taxation without representation," that there should be no federal regulation without representation.  In other words, the Constitution gives the power of regulation expressly to the Congress.  There is no Article in the Constitution establishing an unelected bureaucracy with the power to indirectly tax the citizens of the Republic."

TCC:  " 'No regulation without representation'.  Catchy.  Mind if I make some money putting that phrase on bumper stickers?"

BCG:  "Be my guest.  The best economic stimulus is unfettered entrepreneurialism."

TCC:  "Can I put that one on a bumper sticker, too?"

BCG:  "You're a businessman?  Thought you were a free-loading journalist..."

TCC:  "Who are you calling a 'journalist?"

BCG:  "Next question!"

TCC:  "Yes, Ma'am.  What is your policy on National Defense?"

BCG:  "National Defense is best considered as a series of concentric rings, beginning first with the national security decision-making and policy apparatus and then second with the interior of our national territory and working outward.  Electing me will take care of the first ring.  Secondly, an effective American national defense for the 21st Century requires development of 21st Century internal infrastructure.  To begin with, our critically vulnerable power grid must be immediately shielded to protect against catastrophic failure, whether as a result of a man-made or solar attack.  Our highways, bridges, railways, and air traffic system, once the envy of the world, are now woefully behind and crumbling.  I will work with Congress, and the states, to fix our infrastructure and push it into the next century.

TCC: "But, won't the cost of such programs be prohibitively expensive, given the fact that our nation already has a 20 trillion dollar debt?"

BCG:  "Thought we were talking about national defense?  You want to talk about economic policy, now?

TCC:  "Uh, no..."

BCG:  "The next concentric ring out from infrastructure is borders.  The most compelling case for a 'clear and present danger' facing citizens of the United States is uncontrolled migration across not just our land borders, but via our ports and airports.  I believe that that vast majority of the people coming into our country illegally are otherwise law-abiding and can be productive members of our society if integrated and assimilated properly.  But, if only 1% of the nearly 1 million coming to our shores each year are coming with criminal malice aforethought that represents a light infantry invasion each year the size of the operating forces of the entire United States Marine Corps."

TCC:  "Ooorah!"

BCG:  "You really should do something about that cough, Colonel.  Sounds terrible.  As I was saying, and I'm keeping this as simple as I can for you, the first component of national defense is decision-making, the second is internal infrastructure, and the third component then is border security..."

TCC:  "How would you handle immigration, then?"

BCG:  "Are we talking about immigration policy, now?  Thought we were discussing defense policy?"

TCC:  "Um, okay.  Please continue."

BCG:  "The fourth component in our national defense, the fourth concentric ring outward, if you will,  is our military.  We must continue to invest in the highest quality people and the best equipment.  And, we must ensure that our military is trained and equipped to do one thing -- win on the battlefield.  Any proposed changes to the time-tested fabric of the force should only be made if it can be proven without a doubt that the change will increase effectiveness on the battlefield.  Just maintaining the current level of effectiveness is not enough -- our potential adversaries are not standing still; they continue to grow in capabilities and effectiveness."

TCC:  "Are you concerned about ISIS?"

BCG:  "Of course.  And, we'll deal quickly and effectively with that threat.  I'll ask for a formal declaration of war from the Congress and..."  

TCC:  "A declaration of war!?!"

BCG:  "What part of 'the Constitution, the whole Constitution, and nothing but the Constitution' did you not understand, Colonel?  Look, I know that you are hamstrung by a lack of education -- Ole Miss, Troy, and the Navy War College aren't exactly noted for producing great political thinkers -- but you've got to concentrate on the bottom line of my governing philosophy.  If it isn't expressly covered in the Constitution, the President isn't allowed to do it. 

TCC:  "Okay, let's say the Congress gives you a formal declaration of war against the so-called Islamic State.  How do you attack and defeat 'em?"

BCG:  "Well, that's where all of you military professionals, on whom the nation has spent a fortune educating and training, come in.  I'll turn to the Secretary of Defense, give her the mission, and tell her to let me know when she is done.  She, utilizing the brains for which I selected her to be my Defense Secretary, will turn to the military combatant commanders and give them a mission.  Look, this ain't brain surgery.  There might be some rocket science involved, though..."   

"But, look.  ISIS is not an existential crisis..., yet.  At most, at present, it is a nuisance.  A big nuisance, mind you, what with all of the humanitarian crises fallout.  But, if we continue to attack ISIS incrementally instead of all out, we do run the risk of them getting their hands on WMD.  Then they become an existential threat.  I won't let them get to that point.  Look for a victory parade down Pennsylvania avenue some time before my first State of the Union Address.   

TCC:  "What about China and Russia?" 

BCG:  "What about 'em?  You want me to get Congress to declare war on them, too?  Now we're really talking about rocket science; not to mention splitting an atom or two.  And, that's what will keep Jinping and Vladimir in check.

TCC:  "Okay, let's switch gears and talk about the economy..."

BCG:  "It's all in the same gear, Colonel."

TCC:  "Huh?  Well, um..., What is your tax philosophy?

BCG:  "If I had my way, there would be a simple flat federal consumption tax, somewhere around 10%.  And, I would reduce taxes on corporations, which are always passed on to the consumer in the form of increased prices for goods and services, to zero.  With a zero corporate tax rate, and no corporate subsidies, the United States would become the world's business capital. Period.  Imagine the wealth flowing to the United States under that situation! 

TCC:  "I don't think that would pay for all of the current federal programs..."

BCG:  "Exactly!  I will work with Congress to phase out all federal social programs and return that responsibility to the states where it rightfully belongs per the Constitution."

TCC:  "But, the states can't afford to fund all the welfare programs."

BCG:  "Look, I know this is taxing (get it?) your mental capacity somewhat.  But, the Constitution established a governmental system known as 'federalism.'  Contrary to popular belief, the concept of 'federalism' that is the basis for our Constitution does not give the Federal government responsibility, nor even authority, for social programs.  Federalism envisions the individual states bearing that responsibility and authority.  Don't take my word for it, go read the Federalist Papers for yourself."

TCC:  "So you would have the states take over and pay for social programs in their own states.  Won't that lead to different outcomes?  Won't some states do a far better job of taking care of their resident citizens than other states?

BCG:  "Yes, yes, and yes!  Emphatically yes!  That is the whole point of States' rights under federalism and as guaranteed in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution:  'The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.'"  The states that do the most effective and economically efficient job of taking care of their resident citizens will reap the rewards of increasing vitality and economic growth.  This competition between states will actually spur greater and greater good to the welfare of the citizens."

TCC:  Thank you so much for your time, Miss Brenda.  Can we finish by quickly addressing your immigration policy? 

BCG:  I fervently believe in the motto: e pluribus unum.   Out of many, one.  The reason the American Republic stands as the greatest nation the world has ever known is attributable to three facts.  One, our republic was founded on the greatest social compact ever devised by man -- the U.S. Constitution.  Two, that Constitution provided the umbrella of personal freedom and limited government under which a continent brimming with world-class resources was conquered.  And, three, that continent was peopled by representatives of humanity from around the globe who found unprecedented freedom of expression, and who were drawn together as one people yearning for the exact same thing for themselves and their progeny -- Freedom.  We still stand as the globe's greatest expression of that most shared of human traits -- the desire to live in freedom.  Our constitution still stands as the world's greatest guarantor of freedom.  We should celebrate that, and we should share it.  My immigration policy, indeed, my entire foreign policy, constitutionally in concert with Congressional action, will seek to share the unmatched level of God-given human rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States to all people, on our territory and on theirs.     

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