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With a stroke of his pen President Hope and Change erased much of America

20 March 2012

Summary:  A series of Executive Orders during the past century has slowly expanded the authority of the Executive Branch.  Now President Hope and Change takes a large step forward toward a new order, issuing a blueprint for tyranny.  Don’t worry, it will be implemented slowly.  One cannot boil a frog slowly (it jumps out), but one can bake a Republic.

An Angry American

Today’s reading:  Executive Order 12656 (text here), issued on 18 November 1988 by President Reagan:  Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities.  One of a series of ever-broader measures preparing American for severe shockwaves — high-impact, low probability events.  Cheap insurance in case of great disaster.

Now Obama making this activity a normal part of government, roadmap to expand the government’s reach and power.  Slowly and quietly, so as not to alarm the sheep.  That’s been the successfully pattern used to smother our spirit –even awareness — of liberty.

It worked with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO, 1970, see Wikipedia) — enacted to target the most powerful of organized crime leaders, now routinely used to attack ordinary citizens.  It work fantastically well with the post-9/11 legislation.  The Patriot Act reshaped the United States overall polity like no other single act since the Civil War, vastly expanding the government’s domestic police powers.  The Authorization for Use of Military Force on 18 September 2001 did the same overseas, initiating the Long War against an ever-growing list of enemies (real and imagined).

Now comes the great leap forward as Obama signs a new Executive Order on National Defense Resources Preparedness.  It’s a horror show of unconstitutional power; here are a few highlights.

Before we start:  This Order gathers together, systematizes, and expands existing powers.  Note the open-ended nature of these provisions — broad in scope, with no stated limits in dollars or time.  This goes far beyond preparation for war and disaster.  It’s everyday tyranny.  Like most of our post-9/11 new order, probably operated in secret and beyond effective judicial review.

Live Free or Baaa!


Sec. 102. Policy

The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency. The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness. The authorities provided in the Act shall be used to strengthen this base and to ensure it is capable of responding to the national defense needs of the United States.

Sec. 103.  General Functions

Executive departments and agencies (agencies) responsible for plans and programs relating to national defense, or for resources and services needed to support such plans and programs, shall: …

(c)  be prepared, in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements;

(d)  improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the domestic industrial base to support national defense requirements; and …


Sec. 201.  Priorities and Allocations Authorities

(a)  The authority of the President conferred by section 101 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071, to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders (other than contracts of employment) to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, is delegated to the following agency heads: …

(b)  The Secretary of each agency delegated authority under subsection (a) of this section (resource departments) shall plan for and issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources and establish standards and procedures by which the authority shall be used to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions. …


Sec. 301.  Loan Guarantees

(a)  To reduce current or projected shortfalls of resources, critical technology items, or materials essential for the national defense, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense, as defined in section 801(h) of this order, is authorized pursuant to section 301 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2091, to guarantee loans by private institutions. …

Sec. 302.  Loans

To reduce current or projected shortfalls of resources, critical technology items, or materials essential for the national defense, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 302 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2092, to make loans thereunder.  …

Sec. 304.  Subsidy Payments

To ensure the supply of raw or nonprocessed materials from high cost sources, or to ensure maximum production or supply in any area at stable prices of any materials in light of a temporary increase in transportation cost, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303(c) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(c), to make subsidy payments, after consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of OMB. …

Sec. 308.  Government-Owned Equipment

The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(e), 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;

(b)  provide for the modification or expansion of privately owned facilities, including the modification or improvement of production processes, when taking actions under sections 301, 302, or 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2091, 2092, 2093; and

(c)  sell or otherwise transfer equipment owned by the Federal Government and installed under section 303(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(e), to the owners of such plants, factories, or other industrial facilities. …

There is much more, but these excerpts show the nature of this beast. Expect slow implementation of this (that’s the pattern of the quiet coup). Step by step; inch by inch. Until we have a new political regime, and the Second Republic has died.

For more information

About the President’s emergency powers:

  1. The President’s big stick (domestic): his National Emergency Powers, 11 June 2010
  2. President Obama celebrates 9-11 by renewing his Emergency War Powers, 11 September 2011

A few other posts about the Constitution’s slow death:

  1. Cutting down the tree of liberty, 9 September 2010 — Government secrets trump fair trials.
  2. War is the health of the state, 18 September 2010
  3. A great philosopher and statesman comments on the Bush-Obama tweaks to the Constitution, 10 October 2010
  4. Let’s gaze upon the corpse of the Fourth Amendment, 12 October 2011
  5. RIP, Constitution. The Second Republic died this week. Of course, we don’t care (that’s why it died)., 5 December 2011
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7 Comments leave one →
  1. BrianC permalink
    20 March 2012 6:04 am

    Interesting. I remember stories told by relatives who lived through WW II describing the imposition of rationing and the total take over of industrial production for the purpose of manufacturing weapons for the war effort. They described the country mobilizing almost overnight.* After:

    An attack by the IJN on the naval base at Pearl Harbor. Leading to the request by Roosevelt to a joint session of congress for a formal declaration of war with, as I understand history, the powers to wage war as he saw fit.

    Now we see powers formally granted to the Executive in war time codified in times of peace. With no accountability and no desire by the Legislative branch to exercise proper over sight of the Executive.

    A sad day indeed. Or a sad decade actually…

    *My in laws family in “West Yellowstone” had to go before a local board to get *permission* to purchase a butter churn. My grand dad saved gas coupons for 2 1/2 years to travel from CO to CA to visit relatives during the war. When I tell people my age those stories, they accuse me of lying…


    • Pluto permalink
      20 March 2012 11:57 am

      Did you say times of peace?

      What about the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen? What about the 15,000+ armed contractors in Iraq? The cold war against Iran?

      The US people may be at peace but the US government has been at war for almost 11 years with no end in sight.

      It is generally agreed that Hitler made a big mistake in not mobilizing the German people for total war until 1943; it would be very interesting to read a history book from 50 years in the future to find out what they say about the current US situation.


  2. BrianC permalink
    20 March 2012 2:20 pm

    You are correct in pointing out how stupid it was to use the term “peace” in the context of our never ending state of war. I thought about that after I’d gone to bed, but was too lazy to come back and edit it.

    Begs the question… Where/when will it end?


    • aguest permalink
      20 March 2012 11:10 pm

      A related question is which law/decree/executive order will define “national defence” in such a way as to warrant the collection of plentiful Godwin points.

      It is remarkable that in the extracts presented here, the executive ordere already conflates the “promot[ion of] the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions”, “in peacetime and in times of national emergency”…


  3. 21 March 2012 3:07 am

    They’re probably at a rally somewhere getting high on “Koch”. All joking aside, you raise a good point. The “Tea Party” apparently only had all that much enthusiasm for one election cycle. My question is, does this executive order essentially codify the power of the POTUS to make the US into a command economy whenever he raises the specter of “National Security”, at this point broadly defined?


  4. 21 March 2012 3:01 pm

    Adrienne Rich reads her poem “What Kind of Times Are These.” Part of the Poetry Everywhere project airing on public television. Filmed at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.

    This is not a story about “Russia”



  5. Vpep permalink
    22 March 2012 6:28 am

    ” The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness”.
    So If I am a second rate country and try to “protect” my industry (via subsidy or tariff on imports) I’d probably get slapped by USA and the other kids in the block for unfair practices, limiting free trade etc. But US can protect its industrial base because it is an element of “national defense preparedness” and of course the protection of the nation takes priority against any “free trade” principle. Remember Bush’s steel tariffs in 2002? I wonder if they are still enforced?


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