The nuclear “football” is definitely fascinating – it might be the most interesting piece of luggage in the world.  That’s partly because of its importance, partly because it goes everywhere that the President goes, and mostly because it has a mystique to it which can lead people with wild imaginations into believing that it contains just about anything.

For those who don’t know, the nuclear “football” is a briefcase carried by a military aide who travels everywhere with the President.  It’s not a bad job for the military aide who gets to fly on Air Force One and see the world from within shouting distance of the President, but the aide does have to lug this 50-pound bag every step of the way:

From what past military aides have told us, the football contains communications equipment, instructions for activating the Emergency Broadcast System, and information and options on potential target sites for our nuclear weapons.  The procedures and authentication codes for launching nuclear weapons are also included in the football.  If I remember correctly, the President also carries authentication codes on something like a credit card that he keeps on his person, as well.  During the Cold War, at least, I believe the President received new authentication codes every morning and those were supposed to match up with the codes inside the football in order to launch nuclear weapons.  Many Presidents carry the card of authentication codes in their wallet or in the pocket of their shirt or suit jacket.  Also, there is most likely a book in the football filled with other classified information in case of a doomsday attack, such as continuity of government procedures, evacuation sites (for the President, his family, his staff, Congress, and top military leaders), and emergency contact information.

There is more than one football.  The President, of course, travels with one, but the Vice President travels with a nuclear football, as well.  I’m sure there is a foolproof system that prevents the Vice President from launching nuclear weapons on his own, but the VP needs a football with him in case, for example, the President dies in a nuclear strike and the nation (and new President) needs to retaliate immediately.  There are probably spare nuclear footballs stashed at undisclosed locations, continuity of government sites, and air force bases around the country.  There is a backup football at the White House that can be dispatched to the President or Vice President, if necessary.  When he’s at home, obviously, the President doesn’t need to have the military aide following him around with the football because he has the capability to launch nuclear strikes and access the necessary communication systems from within the White House.

As for your question, the answer is actually much simpler than you would think, especially when it comes to our wonderful federal government, which seems to love making things more difficult.

On Inauguration Day, when there is a transition between Presidents like we saw in 2009 when the Presidency passed from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, there are two military aides carrying nuclear footballs – one assigned to the outgoing President and one assigned to the President-elect.

If I were to take a guess on the logistics, I would imagine that the President would receive his authentication codes as usual and be matched up with his military aide and that the President-elect (who has been briefed throughout the transition on logistical issues such as the nuclear football) would also receive authentication codes that morning and be matched up with a military aide.  I would think that the authentication codes given to the outgoing President (in this case, George W. Bush) and his military aide would expire upon 12:00 PM when Obama officially became President and Obama’s authentication codes and his military aide would become active from that moment on.  I don’t know all of this for a fact, but I believe that’s the way it goes.  Basically, President Bush would arrive at the Capitol as President with his military aide and the football nearby and still in control of the nuclear arsenal, but he would leave the Capitol with only his wife at his side.  I’m guessing that there aren’t very many feelings in life that measure up to the relief of the “I’m no longer responsible for having to launch retaliatory nuclear strikes that will probably destroy the planet” feeling.  

By the way, if I were President, I would immediately get rid of the nuclear football and replace it with this:

So a panel operating out of the White House — that meets in total secrecy, with no law or rules governing what it can do or how it operates — is empowered to place American citizens on a list to be killed, which (by some process nobody knows) eventually makes its way to the President, who is the final Decider. It is difficult to describe the levels of warped authoritarianism necessary to cause someone to lend their support to a twisted Star Chamber like that; I genuinely wonder whether the Good Democrats doing so actually first convince themselves that if this were the Bush White House’s hit list, or if it becomes Rick Perry’s, they would be supportive just the same. Seriously: if you’re willing to endorse having White House functionaries meet in secret — with no guidelines, no oversight, no transparency — and compile lists of American citizens to be killed without due process, what aren’t you willing to support?

Execution by Secret White House Committee
Glenn Greenwald

[emphasis added]

Elaine Scarry reclaims a Hobbes who knows the horrors of arbitrary violence firsthand and whose system, with peace as its goal, is meant to constrain a ruler’s ability to injure. Hobbes enjoins allegiance to the sovereign in all circumstances—except when one is in danger of injury or called upon to injure others. Then, consent is required, and dissent may be justified.
—  Nathan Schneider, Chronicle of Higher Ed.

The Story of Spending

thepoliticalpolypod asked:

How many times has America been without a president at the helm? I can think of several times where there was no sworn in president because of a death or assassination (for example, from the moment JFK was shot to hours later on the plan on the tarmac in Dallas, LBJ was not technically president... Is the vice president automatically president? And what if the president has not been declared dead? Sorry for such a dense question

This is one of those weird areas where there is a lot of confusion because the Constitution requires the President to take the oath of office before discharging the duties of the office, but in reality, we’ve never been without a President. In the eyes of the government and the military and the Secret Service, there is never an interregnum, even if the oath hasn’t been taken. While it might not be exactly what the Constitution sets forth, the powers of the Presidency instantly changes hands when a President dies or resigns.

Using the Kennedy Assassination for example, the powers of the Presidency passed to LBJ as soon as President Kennedy was pronounced dead. And, even as JFK was being worked on in the trauma room at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, the Secret Service recognized that he wasn’t going to survive and immediately began switching protection to LBJ. Some Secret Service agents regularly on JFK’s detail didn’t even know what to do at the time because there was no precedent for the protection of a deceased President’s family. They questioned who would go with LBJ from Parkland to Love Field – LBJ’s regular Secret Service detail, or the regular Presidential detail (since, to them, LBJ was now President – even if he hadn’t yet been sworn in). Even when people addressed LBJ at Parkland Hospital, minutes after President Kennedy was officially pronounced dead, they addressed him as “Mr. President”. Technically, he hadn’t raised his right hand and taken the Presidential oath, but he was President – and that’s how it’s been with every other transition.

There is never an instant where we don’t have a President because it’s potentially dangerous, and continuity-of-government is an extraordinarily important part of maintaining a democratic republic. The people need to know that somebody is always in charge, and our enemies always need to know that we will never be caught sleeping. That’s why we have “designated survivors” – individual officers in the Presidential line of succession that are taken to a safe place or undisclosed location during events like the State of the Union Address when most of the rest of the people in the line of succession are gathered in one place. That’s also why a nuclear football travels everywhere the Vice President goes, too. If there was a sudden nuclear attack on Washington, D.C. that took out the President and most of Congress while the Vice President was out of town, we wouldn’t wait for the VP to be sworn in as President. The VP has the same type of military aide as the President and the same authentication card for launching nuclear weapons as the President, so if something happens to the POTUS, the VP can take charge as Commander-in-Chief and launch retaliatory strikes, if necessary. 

You asked about what would happen if the President hadn’t been declared dead. In that case, there are contingency plans under the 25th Amendment, but it depends on the situation. If there is the possibility of recovery, power can be transferred to the Vice President (or whomever is next in the line of succession) while an injured or ailing President is recovering. The President can transfer power to the VP himself with a letter to the Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate, and the VP would be Acting President until the President notifies the same two leaders that he is able to reclaim his office and discharge the duties.

But if the President is incapacitated and unable to transfer power to the VP by letter, there is another way to enact the 25th Amendment – and this would also be something necessary if a President was incapacitated and refusing to transfer power (an example of this is Woodrow Wilson clinging to office after his debilitating stroke, or if a President was clearly declining due to Alzheimer’s disease but wouldn’t resign). In that case, the Vice President and either a majority of “the principal officers of the executive department” (the Cabinet secretaries) or a majority of Congress could notify (by writing) the Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate of the President’s irreparable incapacitation. Then, it would require a 2/3rds majority from both the House of Representatives and the Senate to transfer power to the Vice President or next in the line of succession as Acting President. 

The Constitution does specifically require that the President take the oath (or “affirmation) of office "Before he enter upon the Execution of his Office…” and that tends to be the first thing that a President actually does, but a President becomes President at the moment their predecessor’s term ends. Fortunately, we haven’t had any sort of Constitutional crisis where a new President who has not yet taken the oath has issued an order and been rebuffed by someone who says, “Ummm…you didn’t say the magic 35 words." 

Senate Denies Obama Right To ‘Fast Track’ Trade Deals

Democrats voted overwhelmingly Friday to derail giving the President “fast-track” authority to conduct high-stakes Trans-Pacific trade talks, rejecting a personal plea from Barack Obama, The vote reduces the chances for a sweeping trade pact, though much political wrangling is still to do. The 3…

Presidential Powers 2: Crash Course Government and Politics #12  

This week Craig continues our conversation on presidential powers by looking at those NOT found in the Constitution - implied or inherent powers. We’ll talk about how the president uses his or her power to negotiate executive agreements, recommend legislative initiatives, instate executive orders, impound funds, and claim executive privilege in order to get things done. Implied powers are kind of tough to tack down, as they aren’t really powers until they’re asserted, but once the they are, most subsequent presidents chose not to give them up. So we’ll try to cover those we’ve seen so far and talk a little bit about reactions to these sometimes controversial actions from the other branches of Congress. 

New Post has been published on

Presidential Eras and POLITICAL POWER

By Dr. Randy Arrington

Written on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day -

Writing in Federalist #70, Alexander Hamilton argued that the fledgling United States of America desperately needed a president. But over the last 225 years, many so-called scholars have demonstrated that the American presidency, while being a unique and necessary political construct, is also an inherently dangerous paradigm as well. Thus we have the logical paradox of the American presidency. America needs a president but the power of that office is always a potential threat to our individual liberty as citizens.

Likewise, the appropriate use of political power and leadership has always been a perplexing one, in part because of the sustaining myth that the people are sovereign. Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America) captured this puzzling aspect of American political life when he said that “the people want to be led and they want to remain free. Since they cannot destroy ether of these contradictory propositions, the Americans strive to satisfy them both at once through democratic constitutional government.”

Thus we have the logical paradox of the American people. Bearing this in mind, F. Scott Fitzgerald taught us that the ultimate trial of a truly intelligent human being is the ability to embrace two diametrically opposed concepts, simultaneously in their mind, without going insane.

When I teach The American Presidency course at UCLA, I always begin by introducing my students to a modern concept of presidential power known as the Three Eras of the Presidency. This analytical design is a standard diagnostic tool used by presidential analysts to examine American Presidents. Discovering how each Chief Executive used or abused the enumerated and inherent powers of their office and what success or failure they engendered, is one of the purposes of using this construct. Determining who are the great presidents and who are the failed presidents is another goal.

The Three Eras of the American presidency are: the Heroic Era, the Imperial Era, and the Post-Imperial Era.

During the Heroic Era, several authors glorified the men of the presidency. Men like Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Jackson, Roosevelt, Wilson and Truman were worshiped as the great presidents.

Academics such as Clinton Rossiter (The American Presidency) called the presidency “the office of freedom.” He viewed it as the exact opposite of tyranny and “the office that helps ordinary citizens realize their hopes and dreams. Power has never corrupted the presidency….ever! Why, because the men who have held the office knew that their vast powers came from the people, and they respected this fact.”

During the Heroic Era, presidential power was good.

In the 1970’s, presidential researchers offered us a profoundly different conception of the American presidency, probably due to the bad taste in their mouth stemming from the Vietnam War and Watergate scandal. During the Imperial Era of the presidency journalists and authors characterized the office as the American monarchy. In his book The Twilight of the Presidency, George Reedy argued that “far from ennobling its occupants, the office creates an environment in which presidents cannot function in any kind of decent and human relationship with the people they are supposed to lead.”

Presidential advisers were most to blame in this situation because they never wanted to tell the chief Executive any bad news. These sycophants merely told the president what they wanted to hear, quickly becoming Victims of Groupthink (Janus Irving). As such, they purposely isolated the Chief Executive from the harsh realities of political life. Depraved presidential decisions were often the result of this isolation.

During the Imperial Era of the presidency, presidential power was bad.

From 1961 through 1978, our nation had five different presidents and a relatively rapid turnover of executive power. This caused the presidents to have a rapid style of policymaking and witnessed them engaging in politically risky activities merely to get elected. During the campaign, candidates tended to unrealistically raise hopes among the electorate about what they would do accomplish once in office.

During the Post-Imperial Era, presidents cut corners and quickly hammered legislation through Congress, leaving the details of implementation to members of the unelected bureaucracy. This approach to governing from The White House proved disastrous on numerous occasions because presidential power had been thoroughly weakened.

During the Post-Imperial Era, presidential power was debilitated.

I argue that with Barack Obama at the helm, we are currently suffering through the Fourth Era of The American Presidency. The Rogue Era is characterized by unrepentant lawlessness on the part of the president and his administration. The Constitution is not the law of the land, it is merely and ancient document that serves as a guideline for action. Therefore, all of our sacred founding documents are to be constantly re-interpreted by Ivy League lawyers and relentlessly spun by the media to coincide with the political path the Chief Executive has chosen for America.

During the Rogue Era, presidential power is destructive.

This is the most hazardous time for America in our entire, glorious history. If We the People don’t seize the unbridled, lawless, unconstitutional power away from Obama or any other Communist Democrat who occupies the Office of the President, our nation WILL COLLAPSE and be totally dismantled and destroyed forever.

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. All true, patriotic Americans (past, present and future) were at Normandy on June 6, 1944. I do not believe for one second that those brave men who stormed the beaches of France to bring an end to World War II and who willingly sacrificed their lives for American liberty did this so that a man like Barack Obama would be put into The White House by ignorant, parasitic voters who do not understand the danger in trading their sovereignty and freedom for some temporary material security.

Remember, American Liberty is ALWAYS just one generation away from extinction.

There can be no patriotism without liberty; no liberty without virtue; no virtue without citizens.

Speak the Truth.

Endure the Consequences.

Randy Arrington, PhD

Originally published at – Published here with author permission.

Check out Kerosene Cowboys
by Dr. Randy Arrington
Obama to Jon Stewart: Congress needs to rein in the presidency | The Raw Story

Obama vowed to close down the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison facility during his campaign for president. After taking office, Obama called for some terrorism suspects to face trial in federal civilian courts, but Congress blocked the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States. In 2011, Obama issued an executive order that allowed military trials for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay to resume.

“One of the things that we’ve got to do is put a legal architecture in place and we need congressional help to do that to make sure that not only am I reined in, but any president’s reined in, in terms of some of the decisions that we’re making,” he continued. “Now there’s some tough trade-offs, I mean there are times when there are bad folks somewhere on the other side of the world and you’ve got to make a call and it’s not optimal.”

President Obama is making a statement right now about executive action he’s going to take on immigration reform. I can’t get CNN to stream properly, so I won’t comment on thee actual substance of what he’s saying or what this executive action might be. But it brings to mind the multitude of circumventions of Congress he’s done during his presidency.

He’s far from the first president to take executive actions, and he surely won’t be the last. But the fact of the matter is, we’re supposed to be a nation governed by laws and a system to enable and enact those laws, not one in which ONE person decides what’s best and makes it happen with or without Congressional action.

(I just heard him say he’s going to do things within the currently-existing scope of his legal power, so that’s a positive)

The level of executive action, though, that we’ve seen from BO and GWB is scary to me for the future of things. It sets a precedent for the President (whoever that may be) to bring about these executive actions right and left as they see fit. Maybe it’ll be partially (or somehow fully) overturning the Affordable Care Act. Maybe it’ll be finding some sort of legal recourse against abortion providers. Maybe it’ll be cutting down our military to a couple of guys named Frank and Ted that dress like Indiana Jones. Maybe it’ll be opening the borders entirely to whoever wants to come in, or closing them off completely even to presently-legal immigrants. These are hyperbolic examples, obviously, but the point is that things could just as easily go to one extreme and then the other, back and forth for years. This is certainly a slippery-slope argument, but it’s not out of the realm of realism.

It just worries me, guys.


Presidential Power: Crash Course Government and Politics #11  

This week Craig looks at the expressed powers of the President of the United States - that is the ones you can find in the Constitution. From appointing judges and granting pardons, to vetoing laws and acting as the nation’s chief diplomat on foreign policy, the Commander in Chief is a pretty powerful person, but actually not as powerful as you might think. The Constitution also limits presidential powers to maintain balance among the three branches of government. Next week we’ll talk about the president’s powers NOT mentioned in the Constitution - implied powers. 

ANALYSIS:  Higher gas prices cloud Obama’s re-election hopes (with multiple points illustrating how Obama has no control over prices at the pump)


That’s strange.  I distinctly recall persistent media reports about higher gas prices being controlled by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as a payoff to their big oil cronies.

Which way is it?  Does a president control gas prices or not?
Political partying: Left, right, left, right, left, right ...

Four conservative and liberal bigwigs dueled Friday at Regent University’s 11th annual Clash of the Titans, debating the role of presidential power.

Speaking for the political right were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. David Axelrod and David Plouffe, former senior advisers to President Barack Obama, represented the left.

Dana Perino, former White House press secretary and Fox News contributor, moderated, posing questions and reading others submitted by audience members on the topic: “Presidential Power: Has the Executive Branch Gone Too Far?” The debaters took over at times and asked questions directly of one another, veering off into arguments about Syria, the Internal Revenue Service, the federal government shutdown, the Affordable Care Act and the state of the online health insurance marketplaces.

In his opening statement, Gingrich pointed out that Congress is listed before the presidency in the Constitution, which he said was a choice the founding fathers made to avoid dictatorship. Gingrich said the presidency has become “an office that is too large, too centralized.”

“It’s not presidential power, it’s executive branch power,” Gingrich told the crowd of about 800. “We have turned over to bureaucrats who are unelected and unsupervised and unaccountable…. We need to fundamentally overhaul the system.”

Axelrod said presidential power has expanded over time by necessity to address the needs and concerns of the nation. He said Obama has been more humble in terms of the use of power.

Plouffe said all presidents wrestle with executive power and what decisions mean in terms of precedent.

~ The Virginian-Pilot

untoldhistory asked:

Respond to this argument:

The Presidency is a position will little power other than that of symbolism.

Symbolism didn’t will the nation to persevere through and reunite after the Civil War.

It takes more than symbolism to send soldiers into war, sign letters of condolence to families, and ensure that peace is the result of their sacrifice.

It took a lot more than symbolism to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Symbolism is a part of the Presidency, but the Presidency is an organic engine of our country and there are many parts that make it up.  Symbolism only gets you so far, but it takes real power and personality and purpose to keep something like the Presidency (and our nation) going for over 220 years.

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Thar’s dunben a new artikle calt New York Knicks’ Triangle Offense is More Complicated Than You Think rote ahn

#AnthonyBeers, #JamesDolan, #NewYorkKnicks, #PhilJackson, #PresidentialPower, #TriangleOffense

New York Knicks’ Triangle Offense is More Complicated Than You Think


!– if'n (winder.cpc != true) jkwery.git(“″, ); — By Anthony Beers @AnthonyBeers un Octob'r 28, 2014 Gettee Images Fans o’t' New York Knix breethet a sigh o'relief as James Dolun han'et ov'r all p…
No Dream Deal…

These are proper issues for congressional debate. The fact that Congress has not yet passed an immigration bill that suits Obama does not authorize him to circumvent the normal legislative process. Article I of the Constitution makes it clear that Congress makes the laws.

Attention should be given, not just to the policy issue, but also to how President Obama pulled this off. What he did gives us some idea as to how he would govern in a second term, when he would not have to fear the voters again and could concentrate on those to whom he wants to be an historic hero.