Arts and Movies
, by Mr. First Nighter
, The Libertarian Forum
, Jun 1972
Reviews of the movies Sometimes a Great Notion
(1971) and The Godfather
A crucial political statement in the picture comes when Michael is trying to explain to his ... girl friend what the Family is all about: ... their necessity to enforce their own contracts, and ... their penchant for monopoly in which they are a pale reflection of "respectable" and "legitimate" government. Michael tells his girl that his father is a man of power and influence, and hence the methods he employs, "like the President of the United States." The girl replies: "But the President doesn't order anyone killed", to which Michael rebuts: "Now you're being naive" — a masterpiece of political understatement.
, by Thomas Jefferson
, 29 Jul 1821
Covering the period from 1743 (his childhood, with background on his parents) to 1790 (shortly after his return from Paris and before assuming his office as U.S. Secretary of State); written during 6 Jan-29 July 1821
My fears of that feature [the reeligibility of the President] were founded on the importance of the office, on the fierce contentions it might excite among ourselves, if continuable for life, and the dangers of interference either with money or arms, by foreign nations ... The example of 4 Presidents voluntarily retiring at the end of their 8th year, & the progress of public opinion that the principle is salutary, have given it in practice the force of precedent & usage; insomuch that should a President consent to be a candidate for a 3d. election, I trust he would be rejected on this demonstration of ambitious views.
, by Ryan McMaken, 23 Feb 2001
Contrasts the good and bad policies and events during Washington's presidency with his achievements prior to taking office and cautions against confusing "great men and great presidents"
Washington was a great man who just happened to be president at one point in his life. This is a fundamental distinction that many people miss when they look upon the presidency as some pinnacle of human achievement. History has shown that the presidency has been home to many a political hack who will say anything to get elected ... The presidency can not be made great by proxy. To be a great man, being president is neither necessary nor sufficient; and when we begin to confuse great men and great presidents we do ourselves a disservice. It gives far too much credit to Washington's successors. They do not deserve it.
The Failed Attempt to Leash the Dogs of War
, by Bart Frazier, Freedom Daily
, Dec 2006
Discusses provisions of the Constitution that were meant to prevent the United States from having a large, permanent military and becoming involved in warfare at the will of a single person
The president can wage war but cannot declare it. The president cannot raise the funds or troops for a particular war ... The idea that Congress alone has the power to take the country to war is now considered quaint. The military is now at the president's disposal and he is free to decide where it will be sent, when it will be sent, and how long it will be there. Congress has abrogated its duty to keep the country from war with its use of "authorizations" that grant the declaration-of-war power to the president. The president did not simply assume this power — Congress willingly surrendered it.
In Foreign Affairs, Not Doing Anything Is the Thing to Do
, by Sheldon Richman
, 24 Jul 2014
Comments on the arrogance of those who believe the President of the United States should intervene in any crisis around the world
If this charge weren't so ominous, it would be comical to hear Republicans berating Barack Obama for failing to be "proactive," for repeatedly being caught by surprise, and for not exerting "American leadership" to keep the world's hot spots under control and, most important, in harmony with "American interests." But contrary to what Republicans say (or what Democrats would say if a Republican were in power), the fault lies not in the president — at least not this fault — but in the mission itself: anticipating change and managing world conflict. No president can do that competently.
The Lie Factory
, by Sheldon Richman
, The Goal Is Freedom
, 7 Jun 2013
Contrasts Obama's 23 May 2013 statements regarding the continuing conflict in Afghanistan vs. an analysis by indepedent journalist Conn M. Hallinan and other reports
I trust it will be no shock to say this, but people in government lie, including presidents of the United States. Even presidents proclaimed to be different from anyone else who has ever run for that office ... The facts don't stop Obama from giving the same rosy reports while promising to have the troops out by the end of next year ... The lesson? Fish swim, birds fly, and people who run governments lie. They will say anything to achieve their political objectives. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental. One trusts them at one's peril.
No More Great Presidents
, by Robert Higgs
, The Free Market
, Mar 1997
Discusses the results of a 1996 poll of historians asking them to rank U.S. presidents, focusing on those ranked Great, Near Great and Failure, and offers his own ranking
My idea of a great president is one who acts in accordance with his oath of office to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." Not since the presidency of Grover Cleveland has any president achieved greatness by this standard ... Were I to rank the presidents, I would not quite turn the historian's ranking on its head, but I would move in that direction ... American liberty will never be reestablished so long as elites and masses alike look to the president to perform supernatural feats and therefore tolerate his virtually unlimited exercise of power.
Our Elective Monarchy
, by Sheldon Richman
, 16 Jun 2004
Comments on the "fit for a king" funeral for Ronald Reagan and the similar treatment given to other U.S. Presidents, contrasting them to the treatment of Prime Ministers in Great Britain
This isn't just about Reagan. Any president is treated like royalty in the [U.S.] ... [C]ompare the treatment of the prime minister of Britain. Look at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and No. 10 Downing Street ... Congress cannot require the president to submit to questioning ... Cabinet officials are sometimes questioned bluntly, but that only serves to underscore how different the president is. The news media get to question the president at his pleasure, but ... do so with kid gloves. Of course, there is no monarch, so the president is both head of state and head of government. And that means he gets the queen's treatment.
Sic Semper Tyrannis
, by Lew Rockwell
, The American Conservative
, 23 Apr 2007
Analyzes how the U.S. Presidency has been transmogrified from the role proposed by the Federalists
The anti-federalists were skeptical. How can you create a presidency and not expect it to become corrupt? Alexander Hamilton was absolutely reassuring in Federalist 69. He said that the president bears no resemblance at all "to the Grand Seignior, to the khan of Tartary, to the Man of the Seven Mountains, or to the governor of New York." He concedes that the president has some resemblance to the king of Britain, but there are important and critical differences. He would only be president for four years, which is too little time "for establishing a dangerous influence in a single State."