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War Powers

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historically speaking

My last article dealt with the growing crisis with Iran and the history of American presidents using missile attacks on their enemies. Based on those acts, House Democrats have passed a war powers resolution ordering the president to stop all hostilities with Iran within thirty days. This brings up many Constitutional questions and seems confusing for many. In some ways the Constitution contradicts itself by appointing the president commander-in-chief, while giving Congress the power to declare war. If this seems confusing, that is because it is, even to our political leaders. This is not the first time Congress and the president have tackled this issue and as always it will probably not be the last.

First things first. Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution reads, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States.” That is it.  It does not go on to clarify what that means.  At the same time Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 states, “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” Here the Constitution does give some clarification. In Clauses 12-16 it reads, “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” From this it seems the Constitution does favor Congress when it comes to war powers.

As I have said before, the Constitution was purposely written vague. It is meant to be interpreted.  From only reading the Constitution, it seems as if the Founders wanted to give Congress more authority in warfare. This idea is also supported by statements of the Founders.

Historically, war powers had always been in the hands of the monarch. The monarch could take the nation to war without any consideration for the people’s welfare. When debating the power of our president, the Founders appointed many of the same functions of the monarch to the president, but one area in which the Founders felt restrained was war making. In a radical departure from Europe, the people’s representatives were given the power to declare war.

Some believed the president was best served with all war powers, but too many saw too much military power in one branch as a threat to democracy and so gave the power to Congress. The compromise came in the way it is written. Originally, the clause in Article I read Congress has the power to “make” war. That was changed to Congress has the power to “declare” war. The thinking was that the president as commander-in-chief needed the ability to use the army in self-defense if Congress was not in session. What seems to be agreed today is that the Founders’ intention was to give the president power to wage a defensive war.

For most of our history, there was no reason for debate, as the wars we fought were seen as defensive, whether they were or not. James Madison received a declaration of war when the U.S. was attacked by England in 1812. James Polk claimed America was attacked by Mexican forces and hence a declaration of war was needed. Lincoln told Congress there was open rebellion. McKinley asked for a declaration of war after the believed attack on the USS Maine. Woodrow Wilson needed to keep the world safe for democracy and FDR needed to save us from the Nazis and Pearl Harbor.

Even though each of these wars was officially declared as a war, what we see is that the presidents, each time, taking on more power for themselves. Lincoln constantly fought with Congress over the war, constantly taking more authority to himself. The Emancipation Proclamation is a great example of a war act Lincoln made without congressional approval. After WWII, presidents took even more power for war. With the Cold War it was easy for them to continue with the idea that the commander-in-chief had responsibility for defense. With beliefs such as the Domino Theory, it was believed that we must stop communism everywhere in order to stop it here. So, wars such as Korea and Vietnam were conceived as defensive wars–which presidents took us into without an official declaration. I should say that starting in the 20th century we saw the president take on more power and responsibility in almost every aspect, not just war making. Presidents today cannot get away with half what they did in the 19th Century.

Finally, during the Vietnam War, Congress decided to take back some of their war powers and in 1973 passed the War Powers Resolution. Because of limited space, I can only summarize the effects of the resolution and have to skip important steps. Basically, the president has, in the end, 90 days to use the military until he has to pull back, unless either given permission by Congress or the U.S. is under attack. It is suggested he confer with Congress before any actions taken, but not required. After any attack, the president is required to report to Congress within 48 hours. However, what that should look like is not spelled out. This became an issue with President Trump when Democrats and even some Republicans were not satisfied with the president’s report after the recent missile attack.

Presidents have seen the Wars Powers Resolution as unconstitutional. Nixon vetoed the Resolution on the grounds it handcuffed his ability to act as Commander-in-Chief. Other presidents have also argued against this. In 1983, the courts did agree that the president did have the right to sign or veto any war resolutions passed by Congress, making it necessary to compromise.

Historically Speaking, reading the notes from the Founders does seem to favor the Congress in the ability to make war, but also that the powers should be shared. War powers seem to follow the same track as most congressional/presidential powers. What we see is that in the 20th Century Congress allowed the president to slowly strip away congressional powers.

As I wrote in an earlier column, we saw the same things with tariffs. Maybe we are seeing a new trend of Congress trying to reclaim their power. We will not know until the majority power in Congress is the same as the party of the president to see if this is a real change or, as I guess, just a political show against a president from a different party.


Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.

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Just thanks for keeping the community informed

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This is a really tough time for the publishing industry as ad volume is on the downswing. Your on-line service to the local community who cannot afford paid subscriptions is an especially important link to accurate information about the COVID-19 public health crisis.

And frankly, everyone in Warren County owes the Royal Examiner and its editorial staff a huge thank you for the hard questions asked that led to the uncovering of the EDA scandal. Without those hard questions, Warren County residents would not have known the extent of the harm done to our community.

So thank you to the publisher, Mike McCool, to the reporters and editorial staff. In my opinion, you are all heroes who are doing their best to serve the community.

Rea Howart

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A very interesting way with words

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Our Interim Town Manager, Matt Tederick, has a very interesting way with words. The way he can skirt around an issue is a huge criterion of the game of politics. He has mastered this very well.

An example of this is in the article from the Royal Examiner titled, (Council poised for a decision on the CDBG pavilion project despite added costs). Mr. Tederick states, (needless to say we’ve had some challenges with the CDBG in general. One of those challenges was the approval of amendments to bylaws to address personnel changes in the Facade Advisory Board).

Here is where Mr. Tedericks skill comes in to play. He states several members got off the board, we have to add new members. What he doesn’t say is, these several members are the town employees he fired. If this isn’t skirting around an issue, I don’t know what is. This amendment to the bylaws would make him the program’s Grant Administrator, another role added to his list. It would also make Director of Finance B.J Wilson as the Assistant Project Manager and Chris Brock who is Interim Planning and Zoning Director as Project Manager.

It seems Mr. Wilson has become Mr. Tederick’s go-to guy lately on several issues. But then again, like every other town employee, I’m sure he is afraid for his job. Becoming the next victim on Mr. Tederick’s list is not part of Mr. Wilson’s agenda.

Also in this article is the funding issue for the pavilion. Since the construction estimate has increased from $140,000 to $283.349., this leaves a difference of $143.349. This would be split 50/50 by the state and the town or $75,000 each. The Town Council seems poised to give Mr. Tederick the okay to spend this $75,000 even though it is not in this year’s budget.

This kind of action seems to me there is a lack of financial understanding and competency from Mr. Tederick and the Town Council. With the economic instability we now face, and will face for several years to come, it doesn’t take an economist to know we should be using less money from this year’s budget and moving more money to future budgets. Is spending now and not looking into the future Mr. Tedericks and Town Council members’ way of doing their personnel finances? One would think not.

On a different note, several weeks ago Mr. Tederick stated the Council should consider an assistant Town Manager due to the workload of the Town Manager. I assumed the workload of being Town Manager and running who knows how many LLC’s, Mr. Tedericks workload would be too great. So why has he taken on other roles if his workload is so great?

Let’s count them.

1 – Interim Town Manager

2 – Grant Administrator

3 – FOIA Officer

4 – Town Director of Emergency Management

5 – Running his multiple LLC’s.

Absurdity to its highest level. I do believe we may be in the presence of a real-life superhero. At least according to the Town Council. And so goes the Front Royal saga of destruction.

Paul Gabbert
Front Royal

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Opinion

The Cross: Gift from the Savior

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But how? Understand that the Savior of mankind had to be more than just a man; otherwise, man would be saving himself, and that is impossible. Clearly then, the Savior had to be God! For again, only God can forgive sin and save sinners. Jesus spoke to the absolute necessity to see and believe this truth when He said, “…if ye believe not that I am He (God), ye shall die in your sins.” (Jn. 8:24) Meaning to be cast from God’s presence and light into eternal darkness and damnation. Jesus also said, “…I am come that they might have life…” (eternal life) (Jn. 10:10), which He gives by dying in our place on the Cross! Jesus was saying to the Jews that in spite of their Covenant history, they did not have life and were dead (lost) UNTIL HE CAME! Note that this lost, hopeless state applies to Gentiles also; indeed, to all people of the world.

To help believe that Jesus was the God-Man on the Cross, consider the definition of Incarnate: Embodied in flesh, esp. human form. Also consider Incarnation: 1. The assumption of Jesus Christ of bodily form. 2. The bodily form assumed by a deity.

Jesus Christ, as a man, did not exist before being born of Mary. In this regard, God said, “…thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” ( Heb.1:5) Please note there is no separation between Jesus as man and Jesus as God! So as the Incarnation reveals, the Creator Father God dwelt with His creation as the begotten God-Man (flesh), Jesus Christ! And, thereby, entered the blood line of mankind. In so doing, He shed His own blood as a sacrifice for mankind’s sin!

ENTER: God’s Lamb, The Lamb Of God!

Cries for a Savior were answered at the Cross. The King of the Jews, the King of Israel; yeah, the Eternal Father God who said, “…I am the first and the last, and beside me there is no God.” (Isa. 44:6), was buying back what was lost to Him to establish a holy nation and an everlasting kingdom! Being fully (100%) man and fully (100%) God, Jesus as a man died, but Jesus as God did not. So the 100% God (Jesus) raised up the 100% man (Jesus) from the dead with a new and glorified body!

Jesus, speaking in the first person singular as a man and as God said: “…destroy this temple (kill me) and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn. 2:19). By saying “I will”, Jesus is saying He is God, for it shows Him present (alive) in the past, present and future at once (the same time), having no constraints as to time or space. Existing not only from the “beginning”, but from everlasting! So, He is alive as God while dead as a man, and is speaking from all time frames because His is an uninterrupted and never-ending life!

So, because of His glorious resurrection, I can shout with the song writer who said, “He’s alive… He’s alive and I’m forgiven. Heaven’s gates are open wide!” Eternal thanksgiving to my Lord and praises to the Darling of Heaven; and oh that I could bow before Him and kiss His lovely feet!

His message? I love you. My life, death and resurrection in your place for your life. So respond with the hymnal writer who said, ” I am coming Lord to thee, dear Lamb of Calvary. Humbly at thy cross I bow. Save me Jesus, save me now.”


Reverend Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Christ is alive, He is living today

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“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” – John 21:25

The Season of Easter is the high point of the Christian Church year. Traditionally, worshipers participate in an extended feast wherein the paschal candle is lit at every service as a sign of the risen Christ. Scripture readings highlight every Christian’s connection to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The scripture readings proclaim the power of the resurrection that gives strength in suffering, unity in diversity, consolation in sorrow, perseverance in adversity and faith in times of doubt. On this, the holiest day of the year and for the entire Season of Easter, many Christian’s greet each other with the words, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia!”

Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead is one of the principal doctrines of the gospel.

If Christ be not risen, our faith is vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). The essential New Testament revelation balances on this as a historical fact. On the day of Pentecost, Peter argued the necessity of Christ’s resurrection from the prediction in Psalm 16 (Acts 2:24-28). Christ also clearly prophesied his resurrection (Matthew 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John 2:19-22). Thus we can preach that Jesus is alive; that He has risen as He said He would and that He is the Son of God as He claimed to be. Christ is alive! He is living today.

The Bible informs us that Jesus did appear many times after his death and resurrection:

  • The empty tomb – Resurrection Sunday – Matthew 28: 1-10, Mark 16: 1-8, Luke 24: 1-12, John 20: 1-9.
  • To Mary Magdalene at the garden – Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16: 9-11, John 20: 11-18.
  • To other women, “the other Mary,” Salome, Joanna, and others, as they returned from the tomb – Resurrection Sunday – Matthew 28: 9-10.
  • To Simon Peter alone – Resurrection Sunday – Luke 24: 34, 1 Corinthians 15: 5.
  • To the two disciples going to Emmaus – Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16: 12-13, Luke 24: 13-32.
  • To the ten disciples (Thomas being absent) in the upper room – Resurrection Sunday – Luke 24: 36-43, John 20: 19-25.
  • To the disciples again (Thomas being present) – Following Sunday – Mark 16: 14, John 20: 26-31, 1 Corinthians 15: 5.
  • To seven disciples when fishing at the Sea of Galilee – sometime later – John 21: 1-23.
  • To the eleven at an appointed place in Galilee – sometime later – Matthew 28: 16-20, Mark 16: 15-18.
  • More than 500 brethren – sometime later – 1 Corinthians 15: 6.
  • To James, but under unknown circumstances – sometime later – 1 Corinthians 15: 7.
  • To the apostles immediately before the ascension. They accompanied him from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet and there they saw him ascend “till a cloud received him out of their sight” – Forty days after Jesus’ resurrection – Luke 24: 44-49, Acts 1: 3-8.

In addition to the above appearances, Christ will return by way of vision and appear to Stephen, several times to Paul, and finally to John to give him the final Revelation:

  • Paul at Damascus, speaks of it as an appearance of the risen Savior – several years later – Acts 9: 1-19, 22: 3-16, 26: 9-18, 1 Corinthians 9: 1, 15: 8.
  • Paul tells us in Galatians 1:17 that he went immediately into Arabia and then returned to Damascus and three years after his transforming vision of Jesus, he went up to Jerusalem to see the Apostles. During Paul’s 3 years in Arabia he received the Gospel from the Lord (Galatians 1:11-17). He made a visit to the Throne of God (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) where he saw things he was not permitted to reveal. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, when Paul recounted all the Lord’s post resurrection appearances, he included himself as one who had seen Him. So, at some point, he apparently did have a physical meeting with the Lord.
  • Stephen in his dying vision saw “Jesus standing on the right hand of God” – sometime later – Acts 7: 55-56.
  • John of Patmos experienced a vision of the resurrected Christ described in Revelation – many years later – Revelation 1: 12-20.

It is implied in the words of Luke (Acts 1:3) that there may have been other appearances of which we have no record.

2 Corinthians 13 cites that, “in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses every word shall be established.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ has been established as fact. The scriptures tell us of the many appearances of Christ and the witnesses who experienced the events encompassing the resurrection. In Christ we can be confident of our salvation and in Christ we can be confident of our own resurrection.

The apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” We should find the assurance of our salvation in the truth of God’s Word. We should have trust that we are saved based on the promises God has declared.

A final note: Ephesians 5:13-15

Children of Light

13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.


Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia

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The Governor, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the Constitution

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In the struggle against COVID-19, policymakers are balancing the health of the people they serve against other important things: work, family life, education, social gatherings, religious worship, and liberty. These things, while they are not life itself, are, to most, at least part of what gives life its joy and flavor. They are the things that liberty, which was at the heart of the Revolution that gave us the Commonwealth of Virginia, serve and make possible.

On Tuesday of last week, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 53, which he augmented with Executive Order 55 on Monday of this week. Together these efforts represent his Administration’s balance between liberty and the spread of a communicable disease.

His orders ban both public and private gatherings of more than ten people and ban leaving the house except for certain approved purposes. He makes violations of these orders punishable by fines and jail time. In doing so, he exempts some gatherings from the decrees, declaring them “essential.” While his list of “essential” activities includes the operations of the media and the government, it does not include religious services.

Virginia is now living in a strange reality where, by two strokes of his pen, the governor has essentially criminalized the everyday life of Virginians. Work, family gatherings, education, graduations, and the worship of Almighty God, could get you fined or thrown in jail. Virginians should think long and hard about that.

One thing that most Virginians will be quick to realize is that such threats are overkill. The vast majority of people (including me) have accepted that the pandemic has made social distancing a prudent course of action for a time, until conditions are more favorable to combat the disease, and are willing to accept the guidance of experts on the matter. Most religious congregations, including my own, are strictly following these guidelines and have canceled public in-person gatherings. Even the smallest and most vulnerable businesses are heeding the advice of public health experts and are closing, with their owners and employees remaining at home.

Most Virginians, however, will sense that something more than just overkill is in play, and they would be correct. In Virginia, which was founded on the idea of popular sovereignty, and is governed according to a Constitution that protects our personal liberty, the Governor cannot go as far as he has. It is not possible to reconcile these Orders with the text of the Constitution they invoke, which protects the right to peaceably assemble (Virginia Bill of Rights, Section 12) and the free exercise of religion (Virginia Bill of Rights, Section 16).

The most a government that respects its constitutional limitations can do is offer a strong recommendation, back it up with compelling arguments grounded in the best learning on the topic, and repeat it. It crosses a bright ontological line—one that people have died to draw—to go from offering a recommendation to issuing an order, one that the Executive will enforce with fines and jail time. This is especially the case when there is no need for imposing such measures on people who are behaving this way anyway.

Instead, with these orders, the Governor has needlessly complicated his response to the pandemic by taking reasonable, life-saving health guidance and turning it into a crusade against civil society. He has heaped both a constitutional and moral crisis on top of the existing health and economic crises. He has created a necessity for vigilant citizens to work to defend the constitution while trying to stay healthy and financially solvent.

When our forefathers enshrined in the Constitution the freedom to peaceably assemble and the right to the Free Exercise of religion, they did so knowing that these freedoms would come under attack, and had wisdom deep enough to know that this was most likely to occur during a crisis. Where there is tension between measures intended to protect life and the liberty to enjoy it, our Constitution has already struck a clear balance. It does not guarantee us perfect health or freedom from disease; it guarantees us liberty. If that is unsatisfactory to some, they must change the Constitution.

Hopefully reason will prevail with the Governor, and he will revise his approach. If he does not, the people will have an obligation to work to reverse his decrees.

A health crisis, however severe, is no excuse to trample the Constitution. In some respects, the willingness of Virginians to take the measures necessary to protect their health makes this an easy case. If the Governor does not readjust his approach, however, the situation will escalate, causing unnecessary controversy and risk. The Governor has an obligation to work harder to strike a balance that heeds the Constitution.

Scott Lloyd is an attorney from Front Royal, Virginia.

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Opinion

Spanish Flu

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historically speaking

There has been a lot of criticism over the President’s use of the term “Chinese virus” and rightfully so. Names have not always been an accurate way of identifying ground zero for any disease. Health leaders have named this current virus COVID-19. You cannot call this coronavirus because that is a blanket term that covers any type of upper respiratory infection. Also, COVID-19 does not mean the 19th Chinese-originated viral infectious disease this year; it simply stands for Corona Virus Disease 19. Historically speaking we have seen that naming a disease after a region is not always accurate.

With the last great pandemic, the name Spanish Flu is completely inaccurate. The 1918 flu that killed around 50 million worldwide actually is now believed to have begun in Kansas. Yes, the Spanish Flu is actually the Kansas Flu. When Kansans first started going to the doctor, they were treated for the flu, but it was not seen as anything different. At first the problem was not big enough to raise attention and doctors had no good way to report. As the flu spread it did start to receive notice from health and government officials, but coming on the heels of the tragedy of WWI, the governments of the Allied powers tried to stop panic and keep up moral. The disease did not become well known until it hit Spain. Spain was neutral in the War and so not part of the Allies. When the King of Spain came down with the new flu, the Spanish media was free to report it. With the Spanish media being the only ones discussing the new disease, it became known as the Spanish Flu.

The flu hit Europe hard. Large concentrations of troops still there for the War and the troops and the people were worn out and prime for a contagious virus. With so many getting sick and dying and the Spanish press reporting, Allied nations could no longer contain the story. The outbreak in America had not taken off from the original infection, so as troops began arriving from home they brought it from Europe with them.

The idea was that Americans, because of early contact, may have been immune, but those theories were discarded when the virus mutated in the fall and Boston became one of the epicenters. By September, 85,000 Bostonians had the flu and, just south of them in Philadelphia, hundreds were dying a day. It got so bad in the City of Brotherly Love that they ran out of caskets and the manpower to bury the dead. It got so bad in San Francisco that citizens were asked to stop using the phone. No one could reach medical help because lines were tied up and operators were sick. In many ways the Spanish Flu created a situation that is starting to happen now–the streets are empty and everyone’s wearing masks.

A couple of lessons we can learn from the Spanish Flu. First, it came in three waves. Hopefully that will not happen with COVID-19. It started in the spring of 1918 but hit one of its small peaks in June. I know there is hope that COVID-19 will fade out during the warm summer months, but we see that this type of disease can have some peaks then. The largest of the flu’s peaks did come in the colder months of October and November of 1918, followed by another small peak in March the next year.

Secondly, in 1918 it was widely reported that the use of masks was responsible for the containment. This caused a huge run on masks. However, this has been proven as false. One historian, Alfred W. Crosby, who has studied the Spanish Flu, wrote, “People could and did honestly believe that a few layers of gauze would keep out flu bugs, just as screens kept the flies off the front porch.” Crosby credits the flu vaccine for the decline and not masks. The use of masks and the vaccine just happened to start at the same time.

A third possible lesson is to wait and see when and how the disease started. There is some suggestion that COVID-19 may have been in the U.S. long before it was reported. As in 1918, COVID-19 was first regarded as the flu, but now, looking back, health officials are investigating the chance that COVID-19 made it to America in November or December. These cases have not been confirmed, but understanding the Spanish Flu tells us that it is possible.

Lastly, we learn that distancing works, but ultimately a vaccine is needed. If not, we could be isolating ourselves in our homes for much longer than we might expect.


Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.

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