The Paul Detainment and Metastasizing Executive Power: Another Progressive Triumph

Recently by William L. Anderson: Do We Really ‘Owe It to Ourselves’?

One only had to wonder how long it would take before there would be open confrontation between a member of Congress and the TSA, and it finally happened with the detainment (and that is what it was) of Rand Paul in Nashville on Monday. That was bad enough, but when one takes into account the larger picture of separation of powers, it is even worse.

Many years ago, I asked then-Tennessee U.S. Senator Jim Sasser in a public forum why Congress did not have to obey the laws it imposes on the rest of us. Sasser, unfortunately, answered by saying that the Senate was full of the greatest people he ever had known, which was not a real answer, but neither was Sasser exactly a bright bulb of knowledge. To him, the whole thing was a power play, and he had power, and I didn't.

Except that Sasser unknowingly had a very important principle on his side, the separation of powers as listed in the U.S. Constitution. (I have to thank Lew Rockwell for pointing out this issue to me, and I admit it opened my eyes to a lot of things regarding the law and the growth of executive power.)

The founders of the United States had laid out three branches of the central government, and also had constructed legal walls between the central government and the states, all known as "separation of powers." There were to be limits upon the powers of people in those entities, and in the case of Congress and the executive branch, one of the provisions was the prohibition upon detaining members of Congress on their way to legislative sessions. As Mac Slavo has written, this provision existed to keep political rivals, be they in legislative, state or the executive branches, from using arrests as political tools to prevent legislators from voting.

Given that Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, among others, eviscerated this provision (and received the ever-loving praise from "historians" and "scholars" for their actions), we are speaking now of concepts, unfortunately. Furthermore, what I call the Real American Revolution, the Continuing Age of Progressivism, pretty much has destroyed the Constitution and replaced it with the worship of executive power.

And that is where we are with the Rand Paul detainment. In its Pavlovian defense of the TSA, the White House simply repeated everything the agency claimed after the incident was reported, and I am sure that the rest of the Mainstream Progressive Media will serve as the "amen corner" for the Obama administration. No doubt, we will hear that Rand Paul should have to "obey the law," and "be willing to give up privacy for security," and the rest of the "security" blather that we have heard for more than a decade.

However, we need to step back and take a much more detailed look at what happened, as this is a microcosm of how Progressivism has given the executive branch near-unlimited power, and how the executive branch not only is permitted to violate the Separation of Powers Doctrine, but also how it can regularly abuse people who have no recourse. This incident did not appear from a vacuum, but rather is the result of a deliberate policy that was crafted more than a century ago by intellectuals and politicians that hated the limits upon governmental (and especially executive) power. As a result, we have an executive branch today that answers to no one.

As I mentioned, the Standard Progressive Response to the Paul incident is as follows:

  • Congress created the TSA in order to "keep us safe," and the TSA agents in this situation simply were "doing their job;"
  • The TSA is necessary because terrorists killed 3,000 people on September 11, 2001, so we need to do whatever TSA agents tell us to do;
  • It is important that all of us "obey the law," and that includes members of Congress, and if Rand Paul is not willing to obey those laws that apply to the rest of us, then he can forfeit flying;
  • Patdowns are "no big deal," and this is one more strike against libertarians who believe that individuals rights trump our safety.

And so on and on. Esquire, which never fails to parrot the Progressive line on nearly everything, had this to say:

I have no problem with somebody with some clout standing tall against the crotch-grabbing kabuki that passes for security screening in our airports these days, but, Lord above, is this going to prompt some high-sterical overreaction from Senator Aqua Buddha when he finally gets back to Washington. Dad’s already up there high in the family dudgeon waiting for him. Of course, I suppose if it were the Tennessee TSA doing the screening (you know, if the states decided to grab your crotch), then the Pauls would have no problem with submitting to being groped.

Liberty can be so confusing.

Another "Progressive" had this to say about the incident:

Despite the most fervent wishes of the libertarian conservative corner of the internet, Paul was not seized by Barack Obama’s Black Panther stormtroopers and tortured for information about the supposed “gold standard”: he set off the body scanner (something in his knee, apparently), which requires a pat down; he refused the pat down, and was escorted out of the security area. He took another flight later. Inconvenient? Sure. Silly? Absolutely? But Rand Paul was not detained.

Salon, which is a Progressive on-line publication, declared it to be a joke:

Though it’ll be awesome when Ron Paul wins the nomination and begins the first debate by turning to Obama and shouting “GIVE ME BACK MY SON”

No one, not Ron Paul, not Rand Paul, nor any other libertarians I know have declared that somehow Rand Paul was going to disappear or to be hauled off to a government dungeon. However — and this point is very important — the law would have allowed for that very thing to happen had the TSA and the Obama administration elected to pursue that course. The reason is that Paul's actions could have been interpreted by the U.S. Department of Justice to amount to what federal law declares to be "interfering with the duties of a federal officer," which is a felony punishable up to 20 years in prison.

That is correct. By refusing an order from a TSA agent, Paul could have been charged with a felony. Keep in mind that the TSA policies themselves are NOT part of statutory law; they are created by the agency that was created by Congressional statute, and those policies are given force of law, and that alone is a breach of the separation of powers.

The Constitution gives Congress and only Congress the power to make laws, but Progressives for years agitated for the executive branch to be given lawmaking power through the creation of rules and regulations. The real breakthrough came during the Great Depression, when Congress acceded much of its power to the Franklin Roosevelt administration, a process that continues to the present time.

This is a violation of what is called the "Non-Delegation Clause," but the courts, along with most Progressive "watchdogs" representing the mainstream media (and especially the ultra-Progressive New York Times), enthusiastically have gone along with anything that gives the executive branch more power. For that matter, TSA agents have almost unlimited power, including power to engage in arbitrary strip-searching of elderly women and commit a host of other abuses. Their power is absolute, at least when it comes to officially "performing their duties," and people must obey or face arrest and imprisonment.

There is another word for such a situation: Dictatorship. That is right, dictatorship. When individuals are given vast amounts of power and when they and they alone are permitted to essentially create the law on the spot, that is the very definition of dictatorship.

Americans have been conditioned to think of dictators as goose-stepping men with funny moustaches wearing military uniforms with lots of medals. People in this country have so fully absorbed the Progressive paradigm that they are perfectly comfortable with forms of dictatorship that Americans only a generation ago would have openly rejected.

No, Rand Paul was not in real danger yesterday. No TSA agent or police officer was going to gun him down or even haul him away in handcuffs to a nearby cell. However, these men had the legal power to do just that and face no legal sanctions for doing so, and the lack of response by most Americans to this situation perhaps is more frightening than anything the TSA did on Monday when the government machine that scanned Rand Paul beeped.

January 25, 2012