President Obama Is Not Doing His Job

According to the Constitution, the president's first job obligation is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

Government is bad for personal freedom. That argument is premised upon the truism that everything government does interferes with freedom because it either prohibits or compels. Everything it owns it has taken from others. Much of what it says is divorced from the truth. President Obama, like President George W. Bush, has argued that his first job is to keep America safe, and if he impairs personal freedom in the process, that is a small price to pay for safety. Many of my colleagues in the media on the left and right have bought this argument, notwithstanding its fallacies.

Until now.

This past week, we learned that the IRS has targeted for additional scrutiny the tax exemption applications of groups with whose messages it disagrees. We also learned that the Department of Justice obtained the personal telephone records of hundreds of reporters and editors employed by the Associated Press without a search warrant issued by a judge. And during this past week we learned that the White House, the Department of State and the CIA all engaged in a conspiracy of disinformation so that the official version of events of what caused the murders of four Americans at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, would not impair Obama's re-election campaign in 2012.

The common threads in all of this government secrecy and lying are a general rejection of government's moral obligation to tell the truth, a disturbing yet brazen willingness to evade and avoid the restrictions the Constitution has deliberately built around government, and a glib admission that the government can do as it pleases so long as it can politically get away with it.

The Constitution's Equal Protection Clause requires that the government treat all similarly situated entities in a similar manner. The Constitution's First Amendment prohibits the government from using the speech and expressive activities of persons in America as a basis for the disparate treatment of them.

Thus, on its face -- that is, on the basis of what the IRS has admitted and without any further investigation -- we have violations of these constitutional principles. If the IRS were to examine the applications for tax exemption of Media Matters with the same level of scrutiny as it does with Tea Party Patriots, it would not run afoul of these principles. But Congress has given the IRS broad latitude to scrutinize the behavior of the taxpayers it chooses to scrutinize, and the IRS has given itself authority to probe, prod and plunder wherever it wishes. I say "given itself," because the IRS has rule-making power, which when overlooked by Congress (as is almost always the case) actually serves to enhance IRS powers beyond what Congress permits.

Short of criminal behavior such as bribery or conspiracy, the IRS employees who have singled out applications for tax exempt status for more scrutiny based on anticipated political expression are subject to removal from office, but they cannot be prosecuted or sued. Here again, Congress is to blame, as both Republicans and Democrats have used and abused the IRS to their advantage, and neither party inwardly wants laws that will prevent it from doing so in the future. Is this what you expect of our tax collectors?

The First Amendment also assures the right of professional journalists to seek and protect their sources, and it gives them immunity from government prosecution or retribution for truthfully publishing matters of material public interest, even when it involves information stolen from the government. The Supreme Court taught us this in the Pentagon Papers case.

White House FlickrWhite House FlickrMoreover, the Fourth Amendment requires that if the government wants private information about who stole its secrets, it needs a search warrant from a judge. But the Patriot Act, which was celebrated by some in the media whose telephone records have since been seized, permits federal agents to write their own search warrants when they seek records from a third party like a telephone company and can claim that pursuit of terrorists is at stake. The Patriot Act makes a mockery of the Fourth Amendment, and the government knows that. When the government chills free speech, we all suffer. Thomas Jefferson preferred newspapers without government to government without newspapers. Whose personal records will the government authorize itself to seize next?

The lesson of Benghazi is that we had no lawful right to interfere in the domestic affairs of the Libyan government. It was unlawful for Obama to bomb Col. Gadhafi without a congressional declaration of war. The organized assault on our consulate was the unintended consequence of us using force to infuse American-style democracy on a people whose culture is unable and unwilling to accept it.

But the president's people were terrified that the murder of our ambassador to Libya during the 2012 presidential campaign might impair Obama's re-election chances. So they and he tried to rewrite history, and the more they and he lied the more they and he needed to lie to cover up their original lies. Would you retain an employee who lied to you about the deaths of innocents and lied more to cover up the original lies?

Now, back to Bush and Obama and the president's job. According to the Constitution, the president's first job obligation is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. According to the Constitution, that means preserving Americans' freedom first and safety second. Freedom is our natural state and is the ultimate natural right. Safety is a need that we ourselves can provide when unimpeded by the government. If the president keeps us safe but not free, he is not doing his job. Do you know anyone who feels freer or even any safer because the government trampled personal freedoms and so far has gotten away with it?

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  • anon||

    Safety is a need that we ourselves can provide when unimpeded by the government.

    I believe we've reached the point where we're either unable or unwilling to let anyone -but- government provide our "Security."

  • Almanian!||

    What's this "we" stuff, Kemosabe?

  • Iris56||

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  • Brian D||

    The lesson of Benghazi is that we had no lawful right to interfere in the domestic affairs of the Libyan government. It was unlawful for Obama to bomb Col. Gadhafi without a congressional declaration of war. The organized assault on our consulate was the unintended consequence of us using force to infuse American-style democracy on a people whose culture is unable and unwilling to accept it.

    But... but... but the anti-Islam video!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    the anti-Islam video!

    I've never got how a video that merely reenacts episodes that were recounted by the Qu'ran, Sunnah, and hadith is "anti-Islam".

  • Rich||

    The video *hijacked* those episodes!

  • NealAppeal||

    No...the video *hacked* those episodes!

  • Another David||

    Napolitano kind of lost me there. So Benghazi wouldn't have happened if only Congress had signed off on the bombings?

  • Julant||

    No, it wouldn't have happened if Obama had followed procedure and gone to Congress seeking an official declaration of war. They haven't issued a declaration of war since WWII, so safe money would be on not issuing it here, thus no bombings.

  • Another David||

    We got permission for Iraq and Afghanistan, and it didn't stop them from being clusterfucks. It might be shocking, but Congress has been known to agree with the occasional stupid idea. Libya was both illegal and a terrible idea, but Benghazi was strictly an outgrowth of the "terrible idea" part.

  • GroundTruth||

    At least it's one more hoop that the Commander in Chief is supposed to jump through before he drags us into another foolish mis-adventure.

  • MoreFreedom||

    First, it wasn't likely Congress would approve of military action in Libya.

    Secondly, Obama's overthrow of Ghadaffi created the conditions that made Libya less safe for our embassy personnel.

    - Islamic militants were now free to create trouble without Ghadaffi repressing them
    - All the people who worked for Ghadaffi and lost their jobs, are now friends with enemies of the US and may have supported them with weapons/money/info.
    - Many of Ghadaffi's weapons were captured by terrorists
    - The current Libyan government is very weak, and has a lot of Islamist fanatics who like the US even less than Ghadaffi

    You do remember Ghadaffi turned over the Lockerbee plane bombers? He was concerned that the US would overthrow him, so he staightened up his act.

  • Almanian!||

    the president's first job obligation is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution

    Well, it WAS, until the Constitution got to be, like 100 years old or something. IT'S NOT A SUICIDE PACT! We're like the children of the country, and the President is like the father, and he needs to protect us from the brutes in the neighborhood - even from the potential that they might be able to hurt us. So if that means getting frisked when you're on your way somewhere (TSA) or getting some extra scrutiny to ensure you're not a terrrrrrrrst (IRS, DoJ, etc.), well, that's the price we pay to PRESERVE OUR FREEDOMS!

    You libertardians will never grasp that. Have fun in Somalia!

    /ROADZ

  • ||

    The Constitution is over 100 years old, so it can't be having much quality of life. Time for euthanasia - it's a kindness, really.

  • Mainer2||

    and the guys who wrote it talked like fags.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And drank water, like from out the toilet.

  • phandaal||

    My friend tried to use the Somalia argument this past weekend. Took about three seconds to demolish him. It was wonderful.

  • Suellington||

    I like the responses I get when someone cries "Somalia!" and I ask them what was their form of government from independence until complete breakdown.

    * The answer is, of course, communism followed by socialism.

  • GroundTruth||

    I am so sick of that phrase "it's not a mutual suicide pact". No, indeed it is not. Rather, it is a statement of the highest principals, principals that are worth dying for if need be. We dishonor it, and all who have struggled to see Liberty flourish, when we tuck our tails between our legs and whimper "I'll do anything, just please, keep me safe".

  • MoreFreedom||

    When I'm president, I'll be especially sure to protect people from neighborhood brutes, by killing you by drone and saying it was a victory for national security and the death of a terrorist. But that will be after you pay the protection money I demand, to protect you.

    You don't even realize that the federal government's job isn't to protect us from "neighborhood brutes", that's the responsibility of the state in which you live off others with money from your daddy Obama. Or you may live in DC.

    You want a powerful government to protect you? Go to North Korea or Cuba and have fun.

    Maybe you can learn something from former leftist and Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver. He hated The Man in the US, until he started living in communist countries where he learned all he was advocating was worse than The Man in the US.

    As you've never lived overseas in a non-free country, you don't know what government abuse of power is, which is too bad since it leads to your posts.

  • Rich||

    Safety is a need that we ourselves can provide when unimpeded by the government.

    Why does anyone *need* safety?

  • Debb||

    This morning while at the pool, a group of elderly ladies admitted in unison that they had no problem if the government spied on them in order to keep their families safe, from what I don't know. This country has completely developed a helplessness complex.

  • Hoofddorp Haarlemmermeer||

    Would you retain an employee who lied to you about the deaths of innocents and lied more to cover up the original lies?

    I tried to fire him, but enough people didn't go along with it. Sad.

  • John Galt||

    Democracies aren't much fun when the population is comprised of an idiot majority.

  • BigT||

    Has it not always been so?

  • GregMax||

    And it always will be. . .
    And, I may say an idiot majority who don't know they're idiots.

  • MoreFreedom||

    You should know, that they guy who's blackmailing the company president for adultery, will be hard to fire.

    Similarly, how would you feel about speaking out against Obama if you knew he'd send in the IRS, the Health Department, and Social Services to address your complying with the law?

    I'm sure many in government are asking themselves the same question.

  • ||

    "Is this what you expect of our tax collectors?"

    Should we expect any different?
    If you give a kid a magnifying glass on a sunny day, ants are going to burn.

  • ||

    Is that the southern version of "When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail"?

  • sloopyinca||

    The organized assault on our consulate

    You misspelled CIA interrogation center and arms depot.

  • MoreFreedom||

    You mean the State Department has been lying to us all this time?

  • John Galt||

    According to the Constitution, the president's first job obligation is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

    Judging by the president's actions throughout his life, the president's first job obligation is to bypass and destroy the Constitution by any means possible.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    All this is on top of the class action lawsuit someone here linked to the other day about the IRS stealing 60 million medical records.

    It's amazing that liberals can continue to defend the never-ending growth of bureaucracy as a principle in the face of abuses by unaccountable, corrupt governement departments, which is a clear sign that the scale of these institutions has gotten far too big to maintain any sort of operational integrity. They're simply employed as clubs by which members of various TEAMS can oppress and harass their political opponents.

  • John Galt||

    With all the scandals piling up quickly, the Obama regime most likely will be staging some kind diversion, if not multiple diversions, very soon.

  • wwhorton||

    You mean like an armed intervention in the civil war of some Middle Eastern country? Well, hopefully he won't do something stupid like threaten to knock some heads together if some imperiled regime uses WMDs or chemical weapons or something.

  • Sevo||

    "Is this what you expect of our tax collectors?"
    Absolutely! But I also expect some adult supervision and we're not getting that.

  • John Galt||

    Everytime Obama approaches the podium he looks like a little boy wearing his daddy's clothes playing pretend president.

  • GregMax||

    Obama is a colossal pretense. He's "The Candidate".
    "We won! Now what do we do."
    Obama the individual has no experience beyond that of 200 million Americans. But, he is a narcissist (a requirement for modern presidents), makes a rousing speech, and is "black". He was groomed to be the figurehead of this CABAL that is currently using him as a sock-puppet and redistributing the wealth to their friends and perpetuation a culture that supports their future lineage.
    And we live in an idiocracy.

  • vicky||

    I think we need to do away with the IRS.

    Yes, really I do.

  • Mainer2||

    Do you know anyone who feels freer or even any safer because the government trampled personal freedoms and so far has gotten away with it?


    Unfortunately, yes, yes I do.
  • ||

    The First Amendment also assures the right of professional journalists to seek and protect their sources...

    Bull Shit. The First Amendment says no such thing. If you interview a child pornographer and he tells you all the ins and outs of abusing children on film for profit, the First Amendment gives you the right to print the story. But it doesn't say a god damned thing about protecting your source. There's no reason the DA shouldn't be able to subpoena you and get the guys name, address, etc.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    A hardly relevant scenario due to its rarity and extremity.

  • ||

    Pick your own scenario. The Constitution doesn't prohibit reporters from being compelled to give evidence in criminal cases against their sources.

  • GregMax||

    And that requires a warrant from a judge. Show me . . .
    That's kinda the issue here. Where does the line get drawn? You must have a warrant based on convincing evidence, or the SS wants to go fishing and is inconvenienced by the rules. You can beat your meat about the responsibility of the press to be sources of information in actual crimes - not maybe crimes - but if you vote to let the FBI write its own warrants you side with dictators.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    According to the Constitution, the president's first job obligation is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

    This can be changed. Hell the Constitution is scoffed at by most within government anyhoo. May as well update the Constitution to reflect the general mood of le' gov which is, namely, "What Constitution? Who gives a fuck? I'm here- therefore you need no constitutional rights. Silly beaver civilian. What the fuck do you know anyway?"

  • ||

    President Obama, like President George W. Bush, has argued that his first job is to keep America safe, and if he impairs personal freedom in the process, that is a small price to pay for safety. Many of my colleagues in the media on the left and right have bought this argument, notwithstanding its fallacies.

    Until now.

    Oh please. This will all blow over before the cicadas stop buzzing. And the media will go back to whoring for those in power.

  • Tony||

    I saw the summary of this article and figured it had to be either Stossel or Napolitano, your resident special-ed libertarianism faculty.

  • ||

    special-ed libertarianism faculty.

    Coming from somebody whose entire persona could be recreated in AI from a database of Democratic Underground quotes...

    Besides, I thought liberals were all about destigmatizing special ed? Look how quickly the gay kids turn to bullying the retards when the chips are down.

  • Tony||

    I never said special-ed wasn't necessary or a good thing. I expect many of you are only up to the "special" level.

    In a way, simplistic bullshit is better than the more insidious half-lucid form of the other writers.

  • Tony||

    If you think government and freedom is a zero-sum relationship, and that maximum freedom is maximally good, then where do you get off even talking about the US constitution? It creates a strong federal government with many powers (that's the part that comes before the amendments). It is the model of the modern-era social contract. According to your own definitions, it is the killer of freedom.

  • Agammamon||

    No, it creates a federal government of limited and enumerated powers - fucksticks like you are the ones who've been able to ram through the huge increase in responsibilities the government takes over.

    And while govenrment and freedom are a zero-sum relationship, only you and your ilk believe that since a little bit of government can be good then we should have as much government as we can get away with.

    And if you had paid *any* attention over the years you've been poluting this board, you'd have notice that libertarians run the gamut from anarchists to minarchists - not all of us hold to the no-government is the best.

    I, for example, merely think its an ideal to strive for and that while we'll never get there, we can asymptotically approach it.

  • Contrarian P||

    When you're at a football game, do you wait until the end of the game to move the goalposts, or do as you do on these boards, and midway through the first quarter reposition them at the forty yard line?

    Nobody here says that "maximum freedom" (whatever that is) is "maximally good". What we say is that when your actions harm nobody else, it's nobody's business what you do, and that government exists to protect people from those who would do them harm through force or fraud. It doesn't exist to protect individuals from themselves. It also doesn't exist to protect the peoples of another country. Maximum freedom would mean that I could come over and beat you senseless without recourse, unless you were big, strong, or skilled enough to fight off my attack. I challenge you to find anyone here that advocated such a system. In any event, what does your statement have to do with the article in question? You really should endeavor to posit an argument someday that can't be ripped apart in less than ten seconds.

  • Tony||

    It doesn't exist to protect individuals from themselves.

    Not something articulated in the constitution, but you're welcome to your opinion. I disagree. I think regulations requiring seatbelts are good on balance. Yeah it's a restriction on freedom. But it's a trivial one relative to the number of lives it saves. Most of life is a trade-off like that.

    And it should be noted that I'm responding to this author's kindergarten level libertarianism, not that of the consensus of the commenters. The first sentence of this piece is "Government is bad for personal freedom." Isn't that exactly the claim I'm rebutting, however stupid and simplistic that claim is?

  • Wintermute||

    Good one, Judge Nap!

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    At an absolute minimum, the President's job is to be aware of and control the overall behavior of the Administrative branch of the Federal government. Obama's defense seems to be that he 'didn't know' about anything bad his administration's minions were doing. If he's lying, he deserves to be impeached for directing their shenanigans. If he's telling the truth, he deserves to be impeached for gross and ostentatious incompetence.

  • stop telling lies||

    Ostentatious incompetence. Now there is a job description.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I have been trying to get a rise out of somebody with that phrase for some time. I have a no-prize I received once by writing to a Marvel comic back when Stan Lee was still writing the occasional answer. Please consider it yours.

  • GregMax||

    No chiz, Andy.

  • stop telling lies||

    This President has a job?

    Government has a moral obligation?

    Who knew?

  • vicky||

    Obama is not doing his job. I agree.

    So wish we had a PRESIDENT ROMNEY............sigh.

    Romney will be on Leno. Watch. Enjoy. Wish............Imagine.

  • vicky||

    And this wonderful trustworthy group of men/ women (mostly libs) are going to watch over our heath.

    God HELP US.

  • vicky||

    Look at what they did to the Tea party.
    Imagine what they will do to senior, white, republicans patients........

    Imagine.... death panels. Palin was right!

  • Bruce Majors||

    Since the IRS engaged in years of voter suppression, Obama's regime is as illegitimate as he is.

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