The Pen Is Not Mightier Than the Law

If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.” —Neils Bohr

So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” —Barack Obama

In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.” —Barack Obama

I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook.” —Barack Obama

If you are not profoundly shocked by Barack Obama’s political tactics, you haven’t understood them yet.” –Terry Noel


The State of the Union Address was, as these things tend to be, a tedious narrative of self-praise. Barack Obama is not the first nor will he be the last President to attempt applying lipstick to a pig. Unfortunately for him, this one is starting to squirm.

The President did not formally shut down Congress, nor did he invoke martial law. He did not actually crown himself King, nor did he whore out the wives of our Senators as did Caligula. The President refrained from nationalizing all businesses with over seven employees and did not explicitly outlaw profit. He did not announce a plan for confiscating all firearms held by private citizens. In short, for anyone who still believes anything the President says, it was a victory for freedom and prosperity.

What the President did do in his address was nearly as disturbing. He let us know without a doubt that he takes a dim view of our Constitutional system of governance, invoking multiple times his desire and intention to bypass Congress and make law himself. Lest we all think this an empty threat, the President has received nine unanimous Supreme Court upbraidings for trying to expand federal power since January 2012. Something tells me he is sincere in his efforts to upend our constitutional system of governance.


The most tightly-bundled package of questionable assertions of Presidential power has come recently in the form of the ACA–the Affordable Care Act. The President has materially altered the plain intent of the law numerous times with nary a blush. It is, of course, the President’s job to execute the law. Changing the law is quite another matter. We may quibble over what is legitimately a prudent decision necessary to smooth implementation–that is one of the reasons we have a President. The Chief Executive, though, must honor the Constitutional bounds placed on him in so doing. Presidents are wont to ignore this irritating hindrance and occasionally they run afoul of the Constitution. In some cases, they declare war on it.

Barack Obama has reached that point.

At issue is a part of the law that requires people to buy insurance. Some people cannot afford insurance, and thus must be subsidized. The subsidy is directed toward an exchange “established by the state.” As George Will notes, these four words may spell the end of the ACA. Taken as written, they mean that the federal government is not authorized by law to subsidize insurance purchases in the 34 states that elected not to have an exchange.

The Democrats defense of this troublesome detail is that it was the equivalent of a typo. The IRS, charged with implementing the law, thus has “interpreted” the phrase to include federal exchanges. The problem is that there is a documented history of discussion about that very point and it is quite clear that the wording was chosen carefully to include only state exchanges. Refer to the Will article for details.

In part, this is just the rough-and-tumble of American politics. It is designed to work that way and it is the reason we have three branches of government. On another level, something much more disturbing is happening–something sinister and malevolent.

The Left has become something dark and vicious.* I notice it most in the people for whom Barack Obama is the answer to every slight against the downtrodden since Christ was a corporal. They seem today less like principled fighters for the needy and more like revenge-seeking vigilantes. There has been a tangible shift from loving one’s neighbor to hating one’s rich neighbors. Even people who claim to found their values in love for all are starting to sound like they would love to castrate a couple of conservatives before lunch.

Fighting for our principles is precisely what we should be doing. Fortunately, the Founders recognized that we all have a tendency to foist upon others our particular notions of what is good, especially if they have to pay for it. Our system of checks and balances ensures that we each are able to voice our own opinions and work with like-minded others to promote those values through legislation.

That system means that it is difficult to push through ideas, a mechanism diametrically opposed to the liberal agenda. Since liberals continually want the government to do more, they are continually frustrated that it is so hard to get it done.

The darkness descending over our political landscape has less to do with the content of the Left’s agenda than it does with its willingness to tear down those checks and balances. I do not exaggerate when I say that some of my liberal friends are starting to look at their President the way a subject looks to his King. The gaze I see is not one of polite deference to the office, but a worship of the person who now holds it.

We all at times become taken with our own brilliance and awed by our own goodness. Barack Obama is for some, I think, a personification of the Left’s longing for a dream world of fairness and plenty, unencumbered by the harsh economic realities of actually creating things people need.

Present-day Leftists cannot abide thinking about such mundane matters because it interrupts their childish games. An accidental glance beyond the boundaries of the playground reminds them that the real world is rough and dirty and no fairsies. They play until exhausted and sleep until energized, dimly if at all aware that an adult built the bed.

While the dreamy-eyed indulge in reverie, the clear-minded build businesses and are castigated if they do it too well. The President and his minions look at business the way finicky people look at their evacuative functions–a necessary but disgusting element of human life. 

No matter how charmingly it is dressed up, paraded across a teleprompter, and delivered into our living rooms, the message of the Left is destructive and hateful. It is a childish fascination with a man and an idea that cannot be. And should not. The Children of the Left have become the Children of the Corn. No longer content with sniping at adults, they are conspiring with a red-eyed monster to do them in. The One will make it right. He would heal the sick and feed the poor were it not for the Evil Ones who oppose Him with…phtttttt…the law.

These children need to be spanked and sent to their rooms for a while. They need to be told firmly and unflinchingly that the rest of us will gladly listen to polite talk and cogent arguments, but we will not tolerate tantrums. The Left must learn that they will abide by the rules our Constitution lays out and that we are not in the least intimidated by their leader. They will learn to work for their ideals like adults and not force them on the rest of us by executive fiat. If we fail to discipline them now, they will destroy everything that makes it possible to live like decent humans. Go out into the backyard and fix up that old woodshed. You may need it.


*My regular readers know that I despise the Right as well, but for different reasons.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Pen Is Not Mightier Than the Law

  1. rmcbeath66 says:

    Perhaps the President just didn’t go far enough. Why not just mandate a federal minimum wage of $60 an hour? And as far as the unemployment goes (there might be a little), offer all the unemployed an equal government benefit with no expiration? Also, as far as amnesty goes, why not give an executive order to of amnesty for untold millions of illegals and abolish all immigration laws to allow everyone to come and enjoy these benefits? Should I go on?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s