Executive Power

Is the President Incompetent or Lawless?

Barack Obama has demonstrated a propensity for rejecting his oath and doing damage to our fabric of liberty that cannot easily be undone by a successor.


White House/Instagram

It has been well established under the Constitution and throughout our history that the president's job as the chief federal law enforcement officer permits him to put his ideological stamp on the nature of the work done by the executive branch. The courts have characterized this stamp as "discretion."

Thus when exercising their discretion, some presidents veer toward authority, others toward freedom. John Adams prosecuted a congressman whose criticism brought him into disrepute, an act protected by the First Amendment yet punishable under the Alien and Sedition Acts, and Thomas Jefferson declined to enforce the Acts because they punished speech, and pardoned all those convicted. Jimmy Carter asserted vast federal regulatory authority over the trucking and airline industries, and Ronald Reagan undid nearly all of it.

The president has discretion to adapt law enforcement to the needs of the times and to his reading of the wishes of the American people. Yet that discretion has a serious and mandatory guiding light—namely, that the president will do so faithfully.

The word "faithfully" appears in the oath of office that is administered to every president. The reason for its use is to assure Americans that their wishes for government behavior, as manifested in written law, would be carried out even if the president personally disagrees with the laws he swore to enforce.

This has not always worked as planned. President George W. Bush once famously signed into law a statute prohibiting federal agents without a search warrant from reading mail sent to persons other than themselves—and as he was literally holding his pen, he stated he had no intention of enforcing it. That was a rejection of his presidential duties and a violation of his oath.

But today, President Obama has taken the concept of discretion and so distorted it, and has taken the obligation of faithful enforcement and so rejected it, that his job as chief law enforcer has become one of incompetent madness or chief lawbreaker. Time after time, in areas as disparate as civil liberties, immigration, foreign affairs and health care, the president has demonstrated a propensity for rejecting his oath and doing damage to our fabric of liberty that cannot easily be undone by a successor.

Item: He has permitted unconstitutional and unbridled spying on all Americans all the time, and he has dispatched his agents to lie and mislead the American people and their elected representatives in Congress about it. This has resulted in a federal culture in which the supposed servants of the people have become our permanent and intimate monitors and squealers on what they observe.

Item: He has permitted illegal immigrants to remain here and continue to break the law, and he has instructed them on how to get away with it. His encouragement has resulted in the flood of tens of thousands of foreign unaccompanied children being pushed across our borders. This has resulted in culture shock to children now used as political pawns, the impairment of their lives and the imposition of grievous financial burdens upon local and state governments.

Item: His agents fomented a revolution in Libya that resulted in the murder of that country's leader, the killing of the U.S. ambassador and the evacuation of the U.S. embassy. His agents fomented a revolution in Ukraine that resulted in a Russian invasion, an active insurgency, sham elections and the killing of hundreds of innocent passengers flying on a commercial airliner.

Item: He has dispatched CIA agents to fight undeclared and secret wars in Yemen and in Pakistan, and he has dispatched unmanned drones to kill innocents there. He has boasted that some secret reading of public positive law permits him to kill whomever he wishes, even Americans and their children.

Item: His State Department has treated Hamas—a gang of ruthless murderers whose stated purpose is the destruction of Israel—as if it were a legitimate state deserving of diplomatic niceties, and this has encouraged Hamas to persist in attacking our only serious ally in the Middle East.

Item: His Department of Veterans Affairs has so neglected patients in government hospitals that many of them died, and it even destroyed records to hide its misdeeds. His Internal Revenue Service has enforced the law more heavily against his political opponents than against his friends, and it has destroyed government computer records in order to hide its misdeeds.

Item: He has relieved his friends of the burdens of timely compliance with Obamacare, and he has burdened his enemies with tortured interpretations of that law—even interpretations that were rejected by the very Congress that enacted the law and interpretations that were invalidated by the Supreme Court.

He has done all these things with a cool indifference, and he has threatened to continue to do so until the pressure builds on his political opponents to see things his way.

The Framers could not have intended a president so devoid of fidelity to the rule of law that it is nearly impossible to distinguish between incompetence and lawlessness—and I am not sure which is worse. Archbishop Fulton Sheen often said he'd prefer to deal with a smart devil than a stupid one.

But the Framers did give us a remedy, and the remedy is not a frivolous lawsuit that the federal courts will no doubt reject as a political stunt. The remedy is removal from office. This is not to be undertaken lightly, as was the case when this remedy was last used. But it is the remaining constitutional means to save the freedoms the Constitution was intended to guarantee.

The choice is between two more years of government by decree or two years of prosecution. It is a choice the president has imposed upon us all.

NEXT: Brickbat: It Takes a Thief

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  1. Uh…Yes?

  2. Barack Obama has demonstrated a propensity for rejecting his oath and doing damage to our fabric of liberty that cannot easily be undone by a successor.

    The judge assumes his successor might actually want to undo it! That’s cute.


    1. Andrew N is the new Andy Rooney.

      Why is that?

      /not really

    2. Must have broken the “?” key.

  3. “Is President Obama Incompetent or Lawless?”


  4. Is the President Incompetent or Lawless?

    If only those were mutually exclusive.

  5. I like the “Item” thingy, Judge. The “What if…”, not so much.

  6. I do enjoy the news videos of Obama at a fundraiser in Illinois or California – yelling about Congress not doing their job. I take it the irony is lost on the mainstream types.

    1. I took that to mean he was calling out Harry Reid for sitting on bills passed by the House.

      1. heh – I thought the same thing

      2. I heard a few days ago that the house has passed a huge number of bills that the senate hasn’t taken up. Seems like that should be a major story right now (if true) but I don’t see it happening.

        1. Oh, come on, L.

          Those aren’t BILL-bills.

  7. Without doubt this president is impeachable. His administration has been a complete travesty, and yes he is lawless.

    First, the party of stupid would fuck it up. Second, Reid’s senate will not try him. Sorry Judge, I don’t see much point in discussing this, at least not until after November.

    1. Even then nothing will happen, since the Senate needs 2/3 to convict, and the democrats will never vote against their guy.

      1. He could commit murder on national television and they’d still not vote to impeach.

        1. If only Budd Dwyer were more of an inspiration to today’s political class.

          1. Budd was probably actually innocent.

        2. He has. They haven’t.

    2. Not to mention half of the “items” above are debatable partisan policies. Which is precisely how the Republicans would fuck it up. The bits about Hamas and illegal immigration and Obamacare are debatable points of policy and/or legislation, some of which had Congressional backing.

      O was impeachable from very close to the get-go because of assassinations, warrantless surveillance, and unauthorized military action. You would think asserting the authority to assassinate a citizen extra-judicially would alone be sufficient. But no, the GOP has to make a policy “point” as well by including the other shit. You can’t simply say, here’s a line you NEVER get to cross, one strike and you’re out – something you could build a coalition around. You have to show the person is evil incarnate.

      Just another reason the Republic is fucked.

      1. Team Red loves killing people.that bad mouth America just as much as team blue,does. Why would they think of impeaching Obama for something they’re more likely to send him a thank you card for?

      2. Good point. The inclusion of a lot of those items weakened the overall point of the piece.

  8. He has done all these things with a cool indifference

    Coolest president EVAH!

  9. Yep, if The Stupid Party were The Not Quite So Stupid Party, they would lay out the case for impeachment (as the Judge has so succinctly here), NOT indicate that they are not and “do not plan to in the future” pursue impeachment, certainly not file a lawsuit for which there is no Constitutional basis….

    ….and simply wait to take the Senate this fall, at which time they would follow the Constitutional process of impeaching this fucking evil autocrat who is presently the President.

    Cause that’s the tool they have. Oh – they could also use the purse, the other tool they have, and not fund shit they don’t like.

    But they ARE The Stupid Party, so instead, they’ll do none of that, and file a lawsuit instead, which, when it’s properly thrown out, will leave them exactly NO options until the next election.

    Good work, Boner et al, you stupid fucking assholes.

    Nice article, Andrew N!

    1. would lay out the case for impeachment (as the Judge has so succinctly here)

      It might be particularly effective if done in parallel with the DoI.

      But I’ll leave the inciting of civil war to Geraldo Rivera.

    2. The should start impeaching lower level executive branch officials. Beginning with the lying asshole at the NSA.

      1. Good point and I agree

  10. Both a lawsuit and attempted impeachment are pointless and would/will lead to nothing.

    Republicans should be using the next few years to push popular, easy small government laws: reduce taxes, reduce regulations, separate legal and religious marriage, cut back the military, voluntarily reject pork spending for their districts, decriminalize drugs, open up and deregulate spectrum, limit the NSA and CIA power, promote alternative currencies, support new business models (Uber, Lyft, etc.), etc. Pick stuff that appeals to the next generation of voters and that’s actually business friendly.

    Just don’t do anything on abortion, homosexuality, support for Christian churches, Israel, and all the other traditional hot-button issues.

    While you’re at it, get some of the dinosaurs in the party to retire and replace them with fresh, new faces. Get more women and minorities to run for the GOP, not because they have any special insights, but because that’s what people want to see.

    1. The Repugnantcans have done none of this for the last 50 years. Forgive me if I don’t think they’ll get out of bed tomorrow morning and start doing it now.

      1. A serious Rand Paul canidacy that energized a new base might get a lot of this to get more traction.

        Marriage is a state/local issue. Any federal candidate should be slapped for bringing it up. The NSA and CIA need their jurisdiction defined and EMPHASIZED; but the CIA has already had too much of its power cut. I’m good with everything else

    2. The lawsuit serves a political purpose in an election year. It could be a very successful political purpose even if it is worthless in court.

      1. Agreed. And it takes,the fundraising-on-racist-impeachment by the Dems,off the table.

        It was probably a shrewd political move by Team Red, but it shows that they are just as “principals over principles” as team blue. Because if they had principles, they would have impeached the sitting president and his predecessor would be rotting in a jail cell in Leavenworth.

        1. Or they would just defund DOJ, NSA, IRS and some other agencies that are being misused. Of course that means gov shutdown and raining of cats and dogs which they are too scared of.

          They will win in Nov and nothing will change. More BS negotiations between O and Boner that result in nothing substantial changing.

          1. There is the slight chance that Weepin’ Boner loses the Speaker job. But the stupid party would likely go to a worse choice.

        2. His predecessor should be released for war crimes trial, as should he

      2. That may be their calculation, but it’s a miscalculation. This lawsuit is going to hurt them worse at the polls than doing nothing.

    3. have you often known of elected officials who willingly dial back their own power?

      1. no but we should make a list of those who have so they can be remembered for what they have done for the rest of us.
        ill start

        George Washington
        Thomas Jefferson

        1. Sadly, I think you got them all, unless you count Edward VIII?

  11. Obama is a typical high rank Liberal. As such he believes many things about the world that simply ate not true, which makes him incompetent. He also believes in vast swaths of Law, interpreted by Top Men on a case by case basis according to an unwritten body of Liberal prejudice, which makes him lawless.

    He is both incompetent AND lawless, and in this he is typically Liberal.

  12. There is nothing to making the President incapable of being lawless and incompetent. In fact it seems to be quite possible on the evidence.

  13. I know three Presidents of The United States of America the Judge doesn’t like. I would be curious to know what Presidents in our history he does like. There must be at least one.

    Sorry folks, but Obama will be with us until the next President takes the oath in January 2017. However, don’t think that whoever is elected to take that oath is going to save the nation anymore than those of you who voted for Obama thought he would.

    Be that as it may, the article still reads like a well written propaganda sheet, or perhaps a rap sheet might describe it better. In any event, the premise is that here is a President of the U.S. who wants more power and attempts to get it. That would probably describe most of the Presidents we have had since George Washington.

    Good luck on attempting to remove Obama from office. Even if that happens, don’t expect that some compliant stooge is going to replace him in order to fulfill your fantasies of who should sit in that office. Again, if anyone believes that the next President is going to do that, dream on. And what if Mrs. Clinton wins in 2016?

    1. At this point, what difference does it make?

      1. Last post ever!

        1. Sorry Vic,

          Dream on.

          1. You can stop sucking my dick now.

            1. Have a great time down at the trailer park, you fucking moron.

    2. pretty sure hes a big fan of Jefferson and Washington

    3. On The Road To Mandalay|7.31.14 @ 8:46AM|#
      …”In any event, the premise is that here is a President of the U.S. who wants more power and attempts to get it.”…

      Gee, and there are free remedial reading classes all over!
      No, road guy, the premise is that he is ignoring his oath of office and *illegally* making law.

      1. The government doesn’t adequately do it’s job of enforcing constitutional limitations upon itself? The solution is simple, ‘we’ pass a law requiring the government follow legal requirements. It’s so simple I wonder why no one ever thought of that.


      2. Sevo,

        Hi Asshole! How are you doing, shit for brains?

        Too bad you don’t like Obama. You probably don’t like any President do you?

        Anyway, I guess you will just have to suck it up. That includes my posts which irritate you, and irritating you delights me.

        Have a nice day, you worthless piece of shit. Fuck you.

        1. Didn’t you promise to leave? Like, 10 or 12 times?

    4. Why do you have to like any of them? They are supposed to be boring top administrators of a small federal bureaucracy, irrelevant to most people’s lives. They should avoid doing harm, shut up, and not embarrass us.

      And the solution is obviously not the pipe dream of hiring better presidents, the solution is to scale back the power of the federal government. Yes, it can be done: look at Europe. Let’s copy their devolution, not their high speed rail.

  14. Let me add my two cents as well:


  15. No he is neither. He is a Socialist or a Fascist who does not believe in Individual freedom. Which I am not sure because he talks like a Socialist but behaves like a Fascist. Regular people it seems should have not say in how they will live, they must be directed by Elites who of course because of their High and Mighty positions are to be made rich by the taxpayers. Left and Right are linear way of looking at Ideologies and it is WRONG…. the best way to describe Ideologies is Free and Less Free…. that puts Fascism down with Socialism and Communism because in all of these ideologies the individual has no control.

    1. “Political tags ? such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth ? are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”

      ? Robert A. Heinlein

    2. Fascists generally talk like socialists because they are a species of socialist. The idea that they are distinct from each other is part of the right-left paradigm you rightly condemn.

  16. I dont think Mickey Mantle is going to like that.


    1. totally not him and obama are besties for real

  17. What if The Judge wrote an article that didn’t consist completely of a wall of questions and was coherent and readable.
    Sorry Judge just poking fun, good article, vastly improved format

  18. God I knew who the author was just from the teaser. Get a rack of donuts and calm down man.

  19. Incompetent, lawless with a subhuman intellect. I have seen shows on PBS about how birds are able to reason several steps ahead to solve puzzles. Our little Bammy cannot reason one step ahead to see the effects of his policies. Sad but true.

    1. AreYouReasonable|7.31.14 @ 10:07AM|#
      “Incompetent, lawless with a subhuman intellect.”

      Agreed; that’s a very good description of Tony.
      And Obo, too!

  20. “He has dispatched CIA agents to fight undeclared and secret wars in Yemen and in Pakistan, and he has dispatched unmanned drones to kill innocents there”

    Innocents? Let’s play the “what if” game. I don’t condone their lawless drone strikes but I have to wonder what the Judge would say if a republican president were pulling this shit. Probably something like “we have to take down Al Queda for our national security”

    1. You are unfamiliar with Judge Napolitano. He has stated more than once that he believes that President Bush should be indicted.

      1. I’m familiar with his 9/11 trutherism.

        1. Tony|7.31.14 @ 11:00AM|#
          “I’m familiar with his 9/11 trutherism.”

          We’re familiar with your lies.

        2. Tony|7.31.14 @ 11:00AM|#
          “I’m familiar with his 9/11 trutherism.”

          Oh, and does this get him a WH appointment like Jones? Obo’s brand of acceptable trutherism?

          1. Apparently it gets him a show on FOX.

            1. Tony|7.31.14 @ 12:02PM|#
              “Apparently it gets him a show on FOX.”

              So FAX has higher standards than the WH?

        3. That’s nice.

          Of course, its also a non sequitur, because that’s not what he said they should be indicted for.


      2. Jeffrey, I stand corrected.

  21. Obama is apparently not phased by the concept of being beholden to his oath of office faithfully or otherwise, the man simply does whatever he wants to do and relies on his popularity to avert the justice that anyone else would have most certainly been slammed with long ago. Partly because he is black and the media faithfully repeats the charge of “racist” against all who dare to disagree with him for any reason, whatsoever, and partly because the media adores his brand of neo-Marxist populism and simply refuse to do their jobs faithfully either.

    Should be be impeached?

    Anyone would have BEEN (past tense) impeached long ago. This guy gets too many and has gotten too many passes and it’s getting so ridiculous that there is little question about whether the criteria has been met to impeach him; it’s now a matter politically expediency for the November 2014 election.

    1. It’s fascinating how you people can talk at length about the president’s long list of crimes and never mention a single one of them specifically.

      1. Ordering the killing of Americans via drone attack.

        That alone should put him and the previous President in prison for life.

      2. It’s fascinating how Tony can talk at length about list’s of “crimes” and never mention a single one of them specifically.

      3. Running guns to Mexican cartels, giving arms to Al Qaeda affiliates in Libya and Syria, giving arms to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, droning US citizens and innocents abroad, using the IRS against political opponents, using the DOJ against the press, selective prosecution of crimes, changing laws by edict, etc, etc. That just scratches the surface.

  22. Both President Obama and President Bush should be water boarded continuously for their crimes against Americans.

    Another example is the abominable misnamed “Patriot Act”. It is anything but patriotic. It strips you and I of our rights and liberties.

    1. I would love to be waterboarded. It looks like fun. They should have that at amusement parks. The lines would be huge. Kids in America choke themselves for fun, which is 100X more dangerous than waterboarding.

  23. In the interest of bipartisanship, I have to say Obama is incompetent AND lawless…

  24. Reminds me of the immigrant who stopped for a long time on a question on the immigration form.

    “What’s wrong?”
    “Well it says ‘Do you want to overthrown the government of the United States by subversion or violence?’ and I they both seem good.”

  25. Slightly off-topic, but I was under the impression – given by this site – that it was Cater who deregulated the airline and trucking industries.

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