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Monsanto Protection Act put GM companies above the federal courts | Environment | guardian.co.uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2013/apr/04/monsanto-protection-act-gm

Monsanto Protection Act put GM companies above the federal courts

Genetically modified corn tested at MonsantoA seed corn kernel is held in position near the blade of a chipping machine, which will remove a small piece of the seed for testing, inside a Monsanto lab in St Louis, Missouri, US. Photograph: Daniel Acker/Getty Images

Monsanto and the US farm biotech industry wield legendary power. A revolving door allows corporate chiefs to switch to top posts in the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies; US embassies around the world push GM technology onto dissenting countries; government subsidies back corporate research; federal regulators do largely as the industry wants; the companies pay millions of dollars a year to lobby politicians; conservative thinktanks combat any political opposition; the courts enforce corporate patents on seeds; and the consumer is denied labels or information.

But even people used to the closeness of the US administration and food giants like Monsanto have been shocked by the latest demonstration of the GM industry’s political muscle. Little-noticed in Europe or outside the US, President Barack Obama last week signed off what has become widely known as “the Monsanto Protection Act”, technically the Farmer Assurance Provision rider in HR 933: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2013

The key phrases are a mouthful of legal mumbo jumbo but are widely thought to have been added to the bill by the Missouri republican senator Roy Blunt who is Monsanto’s chief recipient of political funds. For the record, they read:

“In the event that a determination of nonregulated status made pursuant to section 411 of Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the secretary of agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412c of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorise the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialisation and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimise potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the secretary’s evaluation of the petition for nonregulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorised activities in a time manner …”

According to an array of food and consumer groups, organic farmers, civil liberty and trade unions and others, this hijacks the constitution, sets a legal precedent and puts Monsanto and other biotech companies above the federal courts. It means, they say, that not even the US government can now stop the sale, planting, harvest or distribution of any GM seed, even if it is linked to illness or environmental problems.

The backlash has been furious. Senator Barbara Mikulski, chair of the powerful Senate appropriations committee which was ultimately responsible for the bill, has apologised. A Food Democracy Now petition has attracted 250,000 names and sections of the liberal press and blogosphere are outraged. “This provision is simply an industry ploy to continue to sell genetically engineered seeds even when a court of law has found they were approved by US department of agriculture illegally,” says one petition. “It is unnecessary and an unprecedented attack on US judicial review. Congress should not be meddling with the judicial review process based solely on the special interest of a handful of companies.”

Remarkably, though, it has also offended the Conservative right and libertarians. FreedomWorks, the conservative thinktank that helped launch the Tea Party, says corporations should “play by the rules of the free market like everyone else, instead of hiring insider lobbyists to rewrite the rules for them in Washington”. Dustin Siggins, a blogger for the Tea Party patriots has called it a “special interest loophole” for friends of Congress. “We are used to subsidies, which give your tax dollars to companies to give them advantages over competitors. We are used to special interest tax loopholes and tax credits, which provide competitive and financial benefits to those with friends in Congress. And we are familiar with regulatory burden increases, which often prevent smaller companies from competing against larger ones because of the cost of compliance. This is a different kind of special interest giveaway altogether. This is a situation in which a company is given the ability to ignore court orders, in what boils down to a deregulation scheme for a particular set of industries,” he writes.

Even Monsanto appears a touch embarrassed. The company whose seeds make up 93% of US soybeans, 88% of cotton and 86% of maize and which on Wednesday announced a 22% increase in earnings, has sought to align itself with others in the industry, even though it is far and away the main beneficiary. In a statement, it says: “As a member of the Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO), we were pleased to join major grower groups in supporting the Farmer Assurance Provision, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Seed Trade Association, the American Soybean Association, the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Cotton Council, and several others.”

The company’s friends are now on the defensive, seeking to blame “activists”. Here is John Entine, director of the Genetic Literacy Project, and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the pro-business, anti-regulation think tank: “The legislation does not, as critics allege, allow farmers or Monsanto to sell seeds proven to be harmful. Rather, it provides legal consistency for farmers and businesses so that they will not be jerked around by temporary findings by competing court systems as activist challenges make their way up the legal food chain.”

The only good news, say the opponents, is that because the “Monsanto Protection Act” was part of the much wider spending bill, it will formally expire in September. The bad news however is that the precedent has been set and it is unlikely that the world’s largest seed company and the main driver of the divisive GM technology will ever agree to give up its new legal protection. The company, in effect, now rules.

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How The Criminal Banking Cartel Is Destroying America – BlackListedNews.com

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How The Criminal Banking Cartel Is Destroying America

Part Two: How Obama Surrendered Sovereignty to the Criminal Banking Cartel

By John Titus

Summary of Part One:

The U.S. government openly conceded that its sovereign authority to enforce its own laws is gone when Attorney General Eric Holder testified that the Justice Department’s failure to prosecute any big banks is based on anonymous “expert” opinions that prosecutions would destabilize the financial system.

This notion of “systemic importance” has been thoroughly discredited. According to Tim Geithner, it’s an intellectually bankrupt phrase. What’s more, it’s been debunked both legally and empirically (which is likely one reason the DOJ’s “experts” wish to remain anonymous).

If it turns out that these “experts” are in fact agents of the big banks whose crimes are being immunized by the very entities whose discredited opinions the DOJ is relying on, then those “opinions” are nothing more than assertions of criminal sovereign immunity—a privilege that is legally limited to the President of the United States.

Since “the King can do no wrong”—the legal foundation of sovereign immunity—the real King here is the criminally immune cartel of banks, not the President, since real sovereigns don’t surrender the right to enforce their laws. And following the long series of unprosecuted crimes by the cartel, in which the President’s own constituents are the undisputed victims, “surrender” is the most charitable description of the Obama’s acts before the banking cartel.

Part Two: Inisde The Criminal Banking Cartel

There are two very big and related clues as to the identity of the anonymous experts behind whose opinions U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hides whenever explaining away his failure to prosecute big banks on the basis of their “systemic importance.”

The first, noted in an article last week by Golem XIV, is a list of international banks that parade under the rather obvious label of “Globally Systemically Important Financial Institutions,” or G-SIFIs. There are 28 banks in total, 9 of them headquartered in the U.S.:

Citigroup

Deustsche Bank

HSBC

JP Morgan Chase

Barclays

BNP Paribas

Bank of America

Bank of New York Mellon

Credit Suisse

Goldman Sachs

Mitsubishi UFJ FG

Morgan Stanley

Royal Bank of Scotland

UBS

Bank of China

BBVA

Group BPCE

Group Credit Agricole

ING Bank

Mizuho FG

Nordea

Santander

Societe Generale

Standard Chartered

State Street

Sumitomo Mitsui FG

Unicredit Group

Wells Fargo

This list of cartel members is updated annually by the Financial Stability Board, a collection of international organizations. The FSB is a global meta-body of bankers.

But the formal edifice, whether called the FSB or the NWO (hat tip Alex), really doesn’t matter, because, as Golem XIV states: “Guess which institutions provide the membership for all of the above international bodies? Yes, you got it—the big banks.”

These are the banks that are above the law in the U.S. In Part One, we mentioned four banks—Citigroup, Wells Fargo, HSBC, and UBS—whose massive crimes had been taxed at a de minimis rate by the Department of Justice rather than prosecuted. All four are on the list of G-SIFIs above.

So what, you may ask, that’s just a list compiled by some international convention of cokehead bankers, how do they make sure a rogue federal prosecutor doesn’t break ranks and haul a cartel member or two off to criminal trial?

Enter clue no. 2: Covington & Burling, the law firm from which both the head of the DOJ (Eric Holder) and the DOJ’s head of criminal enforcement (Lanny Breuer) were recruited. Actually, Breuer is no longer with the DOJ. Following a four-year stint in which “the enforcer” failed to prosecute a single big bank, Breuer has returned to Covington & Burling, where he will earn be rewarded with $4 million in annual compensation.

The significance of Covington & Burling lies in its list of current clients, which looks remarkably like the list of criminally immune cartel members above (particularly the more recognizable names): Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Wells Fargo, and ING Bank.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer have the financial motivation not to prosecute their firm’s clients. In Breuer’s case, it turned out to be $4 million of motivation. Per year.

Under any functioning system of law, of course, both Holder and Breuer would submit to screening procedures at the DOJ to insulate them from prosecutorial decisions involving their former clients. We’re sure they did the same thing under our impotent system as well. But so what? When laws against crimes are a dead letter, who in his right mind would put any trust in a conflict screen?

As Cheyenne told Jill in Once Upon a Time in the West, “when you’ve killed four, it’s easy to make it five.

Now commentators are starting to point out where the slippery slope of sovereign immunity for criminal banks will lead.

Jim Chanos, who detected the fraud at Enron well before it destroyed the company and its shareholders, notes that not only are criminal cartel members now motivated to continue cheating and stealing, they have a fiduciary duty to do so. (Speaking of the Enron-ization of the U.S., Eric Holder is working to release CEO Jeff Skilling from prison early in yet another act of prostrate submission before his real masters, the criminal banks.)

As Golem XIV points out, immunity extends not only to criminal behavior, but to assets that a cartel member bank acquires through crime: “if by doing those illegal things [the bank] makes out-sized profits for its shareholders and staff, that money, those profits are also above the law.”

Cyprus Vs. MF Global: The Rule Of Law Is Dead

Thus, anyone who thinks account confiscation a la Cyprus can’t happen in the U.S. is dreaming of a bygone republic. Not only is account seizure possible in the U.S., or even likely, it is guaranteed. Just ask MF Global’s segregated account holders or GM senior bondholders if you have any doubts.

In the MF Global case, Jon Corzine “brazenly took liquid assets like Treasuries and warehouse receipts, but not cash which would have been more quickly missed, from customer accounts to post as illegal collateral for emergency funding with a lender who must have known that they were receiving stolen goods.” The lender, of course, turned out to be JP Morgan–a prominent international cartel member. Jon Corzine was of course one of Obama’s top fundraisers and an alumnus of Goldman Sachs–a cartel member.

In the GM bankruptcy, the age-old pecking order of creditor priority was turned upside down, literally “rewriting law,” when senior unsubordinated secured creditors’ claims were trumped by payouts to junior unsecured creditors in a patently political sop to Obama’s perceived union supporters.

In both cases, the black letter law that’s supposed to gird markets with trust and predictablity was trampled in favor of Obama’s political allies. Now that Obama has altogether surrendered the DOJ’s law enforcement functionality to the criminal international banking cartel, those dangerous precedents turn out to have been short-sighted in the extreme: there is nothing left to stop the plunder of customer accounts in Cyprus from crashing like a tidal wave across U.S. shores. The timing depends only on the restraint that the banking cartel elects to show.

There is no remedy in sight, only more financial crime as Americans are robbed deeper into serfdom.

The Executive Branch is merely an agent of the criminal banking cartel for the reasons given. That fact, in turn, has cut the Judiciary out of the equation altogether: a court cannot try criminals who are never brought before it to face charges.

That leaves Congress, which in theory could initiate impeachment proceedings. But how likely is success when the Senate, which would try any impeachment cases, couldn’t even obtain the names of the DOJ’s so-called experts in the first place?

As noted in Part One, Senator Grassley asked the DOJ for the experts’ names in a letter on January 29, 2013. Eric Holder testified on March 6, more than a month later. The issue of the experts’ identities was thus as ripe as could be, but rather than obtaining the names, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee put on a clinic in how to conduct an incompetent examination:

Q. On January 29, Senator Sherrod Brown and I requested details on who these so-called ‘experts’ are. So far we have not received any information. Maybe you’re going to but why have we not yet been provided the names of experts the DOJ consults as we requested on January 29? We continue to find out why we aren’t having these high-profile cases.

A: We will endeavor to answer your letter, Senator. We did not, as I understand it, endeavor to obtain experts outside of the government in making determinations with regard to HSBC.

Just putting that aside for a minute though, the concern that you have raised is one that I, frankly, share. I’m not talking about HSBC here, that would be inappropriate. But I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute — if we do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.

Again, I’m not talking about HSBC, this is more of a general comment. I think it has an inhibiting influence, impact on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate. I think that’s something that we — you all [Congress] — need to consider. The concern that you raised is actually one that I share.

Note that Senator Grassley asked one question: why haven’t you answered our letter? Holder doesn’t answer it. Instead, he promises to supply the names later. At that point, Grassley should have put two questions to Holder. First, answer my question by explaining why you ignored our letter. Second, when will you supply the names of the “so-called experts”?

A mediocre first-year litigation associate would’ve gotten this information within seconds. But not Senator Grassley, who earned his masters degree during the Eisenhower Administration. Here is his completely irrelevant follow-up question:

Q: Do you believe that the investment bankers that were repackaging bad mortgages that were AAA-rated are guilty of fraud or is it a case of just not being aggressive or effective enough to prove that they did something fraudulent and criminal?

Huh? Not surprisingly, Eric Holder has been in no hurry to disclose the names of the “experts” retained by Covington & Burling’s clients since dancing around Grassley like a cigar store Indian. Holder has completely blown off the Senate, which has done nothing to follow up the issue.

Frankly this disgusting charade has surprised no one who’s paying any attention, coming, as it does, from the same august body that exempted itself from insider trading laws and has failed to pass any meaningful reform legislation since the 2008 meltdown, an even worse repeat of which is on its way.

On the contrary, both Congress and the Executive Branch are now just tools of fraud used by the criminal international banking cartel against the people, who for their part are drooling iDope dreams oblivious to their own last act, proving Edward Murrow right, a nation of sheep having begotten a government of wolves.

***

Postscript: for an altogether different analysis that reaches the same conclusion (it’s open season for international bankers on U.S. bank accounts), please see what Jesse has to say.



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Obama Executive Orders Nationalizing Energy, Food, Water, Everything Else – BlackListedNews.com

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Obama Executive Orders Nationalizing Energy, Food, Water, Everything Else

Another proposal of the president focused on “one of the most fundamental rights of a democracy: the right to vote.” After the applause died down, President Obama declared: “When any Americans, no matter where they live or what their party, are denied that right because they can’t afford to wait for five or six or seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals.” More enthusiastic applause.

“So tonight,” said the president, “I’m announcing a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America. And it definitely needs improvement.”

Last week, on March 28, just before the Easter weekend, the White House press office released President Obama’s latest executive order, on the “Establishment of the Presidential Commission of Election Administration.”

The creation of the new commission appears to portend even greater activism and interference by the administration in the upcoming mid-term elections than it has already shown itself capable of in the 2012 elections. President Obama’s Department of Justice, recall, sued to block state efforts at implementing voter identification laws that had been passed by state legislatures to prevent voter fraud. The administration did not hesitate to trespass on this constitutionally reserved right of the states, but joined with media allies and Democrat activists in denouncing these sensible measures as “voter suppression,” and, of course, suggesting that the measures were racist in nature and aimed at disenfranchising black and Hispanic voters. At the same time, the DOJ chose not to pursue action against militant Black Panther activists that were actually involved in voter suppression through threats and intimidation at polling places.

Section 3 of the new executive order states:

The Commission shall identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to promote the efficient administration of elections in order to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots without undue delay, and to improve the experience of voters facing other obstacles in casting their ballots, such as members of the military, overseas voters, voters with disabilities, and voters with limited English proficiency.

Interesting that the executive order mentions “the experience of voters facing other obstacles in casting their ballots, such as members of the military,” especially since the Obama administration has been credibly accused by many military veterans organizations of suppressing the military vote (see here and here).

A McClatchy News Service report last year noted:

In 2010, of the approximately 2 million military and overseas voters accounted for in data reported by the states to the Election Assistance Commission, only 4.6 percent of those voters were able to cast an absentee ballot that counted, according to the Military Voter Protection Project’s analysis of that data from the federal Election Assistance Commission, which tracks participation in voting.

This means that more than an astounding 95 percent of military and overseas voters failed to vote — for one reason or another. According to the Military Voter Protection Project, the Department of Defense under President Obama has consistently taken many actions to undermine the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act), which was enacted to facilitate access to absentee ballots for our military personnel serving overseas. Now the administration is citing those obstacles that it helped to create as proof of the need for even more interference in state elections.

The 2014 midterm congressional elections will be crucially important. Recent polls (see here, and here) show President Obama’s approval ratings sliding downhill since reelection, with only 47 percent of Americans saying they approve of his performance, down eight points since December, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Team Obama is well aware that the party of an incumbent president traditionally loses Senate and House seats in midterm elections. In times of economic trouble, the president’s party tends to get an extra-harsh shellacking.

The New American reported in February 2010 (Obama Eyes “Executive Orders” to Circumvent Congress) on the president’s plans to rule unconstitutionally by executive fiat. In the midterm elections later that year, the Democrats lost 63 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, six in the Senate, and six governorships. Faced with congressional roadblocks to much of his agenda, President Obama has resorted to unconstitutional executive orders for enacting everything from an illegal immigrant amnesty, to vastly empowering the psychiatric industry, to dramatically expanding the Endangered Species Act, to declaring millions of acres protected habitat for the spotted owl (and off-limits to human use), to placing virtually everything under federal regulation and control.

Executive Order 13603’s “Emergency and Non-Emergency Powers”

One of the most frightening Obama edicts to come down the pike is Executive Order 13603 on “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” issued a little over a year ago, on March 16, 2012. This executive order is frightening because of its sweeping scope, explicitly declaring that the president and his designated Cabinet and agency heads have authority to commandeer and control:

all water,

all human and animal food,

all transportation,

all energy,

all construction materials,

all “health resources,”

all farm equipment,

all fertilizers,

all fuels,

… and much more.

President Obama declares in Executive Order 13603 his power to carry out these broad usurpations “By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States.”

What should be particularly alarming to Americans is that Executive Order 13603 does not merely claim these powers during war time or during a “national emergency,” but explicitly and repeatedly states that these apply “in peacetime and in times of national emergency.” It further states that this “authority shall be used to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions.”

Fedgov: “Don’t worry; We’ve got everything covered”

The all-encompassing scope of this edict is evident throughout the document, but the general flavor is indicated in Section 201, which states:

The authority of the President … to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, is delegated to the following agency heads:

(1) the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;

(2) the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;

(3) the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;

(4) the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;

(5) the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and

(6) the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials …

To put a finer point on this executive power grab, Section 801 provides these definitions for the above-listed powers:

(a) ‘‘Civil transportation’’ includes movement of persons and property by all modes of transportation in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce … and related public storage and warehousing, ports, services, equipment and facilities, such as transportation carrier shop and repair facilities. ‘‘Civil transportation’’ also shall include direction, control, and coordination of civil transportation capacity regardless of ownership….

(b) ‘‘Energy’’ means all forms of energy including petroleum, gas (both natural and manufactured), electricity, solid fuels (including all forms of coal, coke, coal chemicals, coal liquification, and coal gasification), solar, wind, other types of renewable energy, atomic energy, and the production, conservation, use, control, and distribution (including pipelines) of all of these forms of energy.

(c) ‘‘Farm equipment’’ means equipment, machinery, and repair parts manufactured for use on farms in connection with the production or preparation for market use of food resources.

(d) ‘‘Fertilizer’’ means any product or combination of products that contain one or more of the elements nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for use as a plant nutrient.

(e) ‘‘Food resources’’ means all commodities and products, (simple, mixed, or compound), or complements to such commodities or products, that are capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals, irrespective of other uses to which such commodities or products may be put, at all stages of processing from the raw commodity to the products thereof in vendible form for human or animal consumption. ‘‘Food resources’’ also means potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers, all starches, sugars, vegetable and animal or marine fats and oils, seed, cotton, hemp, and flax fiber ….

(f) ‘‘Food resource facilities’’ means plants, machinery, vehicles (including on farm), and other facilities required for the production, processing, distribution, and storage (including cold storage) of food resources, and for the domestic distribution of farm equipment and fertilizer (excluding transportation thereof).

Section 308 states: “The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President … to”:

(a) procure and install additional equipment, facilities, processes, or improvements to plants, factories, and other industrial facilities owned by the Federal Government and to procure and install Government-owned equipment in plants, factories, or other industrial facilities owned by private persons.

The dangers for corruption and coercion presented by this purported authority should be obvious. Favored companies and friends of the administration stand to gain huge taxpayer-supplied freebies, while those in disfavor may find their surviving factories, farms, plants, and facilities installed with “Government-owned equipment” to monitor, surveil, and report on their activities.

Obama Media Choir: “Nothing here to worry about”

Soon after President Obama issued Executive Order 13603, critics began pointing out the obvious dangers. One of the most influential condemnations of the edict was penned by Cato Institute Senior Fellow Jim Powell for Forbes.com entitled “Obama’s Plan To Seize Control Of Our Economy And Our Lives.”

As to be expected, liberal-left websites and commentators leapt to the president’s defense, assuring the public that there is nothing extraordinary in EO 13603 and nothing to be alarmed about. Snopes.com, for instance, said the executive order “was simply a minor updating of a similar order issued by President Bill Clinton in 1994 (which itself had decades-old predecessors) and amended several times since.” The Snopes entry cited an Ed Morrisey column at Hotair.com, who insists “This EO simply updates another EO (12919) that had been in place since June 1994, and amended several times since.” It also cited a Doug Mataconis column at outsidethebeltway.com, who echoed Morrisey, chiding that “the Executive Order itself is nothing more than a restatement of policy that has been in place for decades.”

There is some truth there, but it should actually be more troubling than comforting, if one treasures freedom. Much of the same exact wording concerning the claimed power of federal agencies to “allocate” all food, water, energy, transportation, etc. does indeed appear in President Clinton’s EO 12919 of June 3, 1994. And Clinton’s order also uses the term “in peacetime and in times of national emergency,” although the phrase “under both emergency and non-emergency conditions” is unique to Obama’s EO 13603.

Like Obama’s EO, Clinton’s EO also claims its authority from the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA) and its subsequent amendments. In fact, Congress has given successive presidents plausible (albeit illegitimate) constitutional cover for over six decades by regularly reauthorizing the DPA. The most recent example of this bi-partisan congressional complicity in establishing the basis for executive dictatorship is the Defense Production Act Reauthorization of 2009.

Therein one finds almost verbatim much of the wording of Obama’s EO 13603 that justifiably alarms so many people. The Defense Production Act Reauthorization of 2009 was introduced by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) on September 16, 2009. The Library of Congress website informs us that the Senate “read” the bill three times and then passed it “without amendment by Unanimous Consent.” One week later it made a similar fast track through the House “on motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.”

It is difficult to decide which is the more severe indictment of the senators: that they actually read the bill three times in one day (as officially claimed) and yet voted for it anyway, despite the apparent jarring conflict with the Constitution; or, that they cavalierly passed it without any of them truly reading its contents (the more believable scenario). Ditto for the House.

Nevertheless, as a result, defenders of EO 13603 claim its legitimacy is backed both by precedent and congressional enactment. However, neither the fact that previous presidents have issued similar (or even identical) executive orders, or that Congress has passed legislation purporting to authorize the said powers, can square the newly claimed powers with the restrictions placed on federal powers by our Constitution.

It is true that a major constitutional objection to many executive orders over the past 70 years is that they are executive usurpations of legislative authority that belongs to Congress. However, Congress itself is also bound by the Constitution and is not at liberty to legislate on any and all matters that may strike the whims of its members.

Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” The all-important operative phrase here is: herein granted. Those powers granted to Congress by the States and the People are delineated in Article I, and primarily in Section 8 of the same. Nowhere is Congress granted authority to “allocate” all food, water, transportation, energy, health resources, etc. And it has no constitutional power to “delegate” that authority to the president or any executive department or agency. Yet, that is precisely what has been happening for far to long with the Defense Production Act. As in the cases of the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, and other similar pieces of legislation that claim exigencies of “national defense” and “national security,” Members of Congress have been all too willing to ignore their oaths to the Constitution and blindly vote for bills that our Founding Fathers would have recognized and denounced as the very definition of tyranny.

Time for a “National Conversation” on Liberty and the Constitution

It has become fashionable in political and public policy circles to demand a “national conversation” on matters the chattering classes deem important. Which is a way of saying the federal government must initiate a national policy on whatever issue it is they deem worthy of “conversing” about. Hence we have a National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures, a National Conversation on Education Reform, a National Conversation about Gun Violence, etc.

Is it really too extreme to suggest that maybe it is time to hold a “national conversation” on the dangers of runaway executive orders and the “emergency and non-emergency powers” claimed by the federal government? Is it not our responsibility as citizens to demand of our senators and representatives a firm resistance to all encroachments on our liberties? Is it really too difficult to imagine that another economic crisis, another terrorist attack, a banking collapse in Europe, war with Iran, war with North Korea (or fill in the blank with any number of other possible scenarios) might be used by President Obama (or a future president) to employ the full panoply of illegal executive powers to destroy what remains of our constitutional Republic? The fact that complete tyranny has not been fastened on us already and that we yet enjoy relative freedom of movement, expression, worship, etc., is no guarantee that the tyrannical potential embodied in the multitude of executive orders and laws already on the books will not be used to snuff out what freedoms we still possess.

James Madison, often called the “Father of the Constitution,” wisely advised:

It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it.

Photo of President Barack Obama: AP Images

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Criminals IN Government: Cyprus President’s Family Transferred Tens Of Millions To London Days Befor e Deposit Haircuts – BlackListedNews.com

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Criminals IN Government: Cyprus President’s Family Transferred Tens Of Millions To London Days Before Deposit Haircuts

A day after former Cypriot President Vassilou was found to be among many elite Cypriot (politicians and businessmen) who had loans written-off by the major (now insolvent) banks; it appears the rot is far fouler than expected. In a somewhat stunning (or purely coincidental) revelation, ENETEnglish reports that Cypriot newspaper Haravgi claims that current President Nicos Anastasiades’ family businesses transferred ‘dozens of millions’ from their Laiki Bank accounts to London just a week before the devastating depositor haircuts were unleashed upon his people. Of course, the denials are loud and Anastasiades has demanded an investigation into the claims; we are sure the government-selected ‘independent’ committee will be as thorough as the Libor anti-trust investigators. As a reminder, as we noted yesterday, here are Cyprus’ gun control laws.

Via EnetEnglish,

A company owned by in-laws of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades withdrew dozens of millions from Laiki Bank on March 12 and 13, according to an article published in Cypriot newspaper Haravgi.

The newspaper, which is affiliated to the communist-rooted AKEL party, reports that three days before the Eurogroup meeting the company took five promissory notes worth €21m from Laiki Bank and transferred the money to London.

Responding to the allegations, Anastasiades said: “The attempt to defame companies or people linked to my family… is nothing but an attempt to distract people from the liability of those who led the country to a state of bankruptcy.”

The president added that no one, including himself, will be exempt from the ongoing investigations looking into responsibilities over the near collapse of the economy.

Anastasiades added that when the investigative committee convenes on Tuesday, he will request that its members look into this particular case with the same attentiveness as all other cases.

The company in question has firmly denied the reports.

Last Friday a list of companies and politicians that had loans written off by banks at the heart of Cyprus’ bailout crisis was published in Greece and was subsequently handed to the Cypriot parliament’s ethics committee. The list includes the names of politicians from Cyprus’ biggest parties (excluding the socialist EDEK and the Greens).