Obama Chills at Irish Pub After Signing Order on Military Control

Obama Cousin at DublinerPresident Obama relaxed with a distant Irish cousin on St. Patrick’s Day after signing a revised Executive Order that sparked fears from primarily conservative circles that he had undertaken a Presidential power grab to increase his and/or military control of the United States.

On March 17, the President visited the Dubliner, located near the Capitol in Washington, DC, for about 40 minutes beginning shortly before 1 p.m. Outside on a lovely day, your correspondent mingled with throngs of bar patrons and passersby who hoped for a glimpse of the President. Inside, Obama shared a pint with an Irish cousin, Henry Healy, shown at center, and Ollie Hayes, a pub owner from Moneygall, Ireland. Healy has a common ancestor with Obama via the latter's Kansas-reared mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. Other White House photos below show Obama greeting the crowd and bidding farewell to Dubliner owner Daniel Coleman.

The previous day, Obama revised conditions whereby he or the military could control the nation's food supply, land, communications and other vital assets in case of emergency. Over the weekend, the order prompted expressions of fear on several blog sites but scant serious analysis so far in the media. Executive Order 12919 on "National Defense Resources Preparedness" replaces one on the same topic and with the same number by President Clinton in 1994 along with certain parts of an order by President Reagan in 1988. The text is here on the White House site, which as of this writing on March 18 contained minimal explanation aside from the text.

President Obama and Dubliner CrowdThere's been scant coverage so far of the portentous-seeming order aside from blogs, primarily from conservative sites. They suggest that Obama undertook a power-grab on a Friday, the usual day for any White House to try to bury news.

For the most part, these blogs and other commentaries fail to note that the March 16 order revises previous ones. Without any mention of previous text, of course, no comparison can be made of differing language -- or the implications.

WND, also known as World Net Daily, published one such column on March 18, entitled, The Imperial Presidency: Executive Order-Panic: Martial Law in the U.S.? WND columnist Drew Zahne, an author and former Christian pastor, amplified this way:

Filled with language about “government-owned equipment” and a “defense executive reserve,” among other vague statements, rumors began to spread that the executive order expanded the president’s power to do everything from seizing whole industries to drafting private armies.

To me, this exemplified simplistic fear-mongering against a political opponent since any reasonable person would want the nation to have at least some plan for emergency operations. I suggest that this is because of political tunnel-vision, not necessarily bad faith in this instance by WND, with whose staff I have more than once exchanged research leads. 

By the same token, however, the Obama fans I encountered outside the Dubliner, like many fans elsewhere, had little interest in the kinds of questions I raised then (and in recent columns on this site) about Obama's justice and security procedures, much less his overall background and goals. Similarly, his communications strategy that results in unanswered scare-mongering make little sense either, unless there truly is something to hide -- not a far-fetched possibility. 

We thus advance further into an alternate political universe:  On the one hand, White House occupants have the ability to create not simply homespun events but news coverage through the photos and blog below of essentially manufactured "news" such as the heart-warming trip to the pub to meet Irish Cousin Healy. At the same time, the White House spin-meisters seem too clever by a half in obscuring potentially important matters such as Executive Order 12919, providing more grist for the mill at Free Republic, WND and the Drudge Report.

Such divisions have long been the case, of course. Two centuries ago, Parson Mason Locke Weems sold books by inventing the inspirational story of George Washington and the cherry tree. Savvy Presidential campaigners later created the beguiling public image of Abraham Lincoln as a backwoods "rail-splitter," not the accomplished corporate lawyer he was in reality.

Later this campaign season, I'll examine in more depth what appear to be serious irregularities in claims both by the President and by his opponents. This will primarily be in other outlets, such as my radio show, Washington Update, except where, as here, the issues are law-related.

For now, we can enjoy the spring's passing moments as cherry trees bloom early in Washington -- while recognizing the difficulties of sorting it all out.

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Related News Coverage

Dubliner OutsideWhite House Blog, President Obama at the Dubliner on St. Patrick's Day, Megan Slack (White House photos by Pete Sousa), March 17, 2012. President Obama left the White House this afternoon to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by grabbing a pint of Guinness at the Dubliner, an Irish pub near the Capitol. .

WND, The Imperial Presidency: Executive Order-Panic: Martial Law in the U.S.? White House quietly releases document that creates widespread worry, Drew Zahne, March 18, 2012. The White House’s late-week release of an executive order has sent the online community into an uproar, worried that President Obama had secretly provided himself means to institute martial law in America. In the common practice of dumping government documents on a Friday afternoon, just as the news cycle is wrapping up for the week – a move critics say allows the administration to avoid widespread coverage of embarrassing actions – the White House released an executive order on “National Defense Resources Preparedness.”

Activist Post, New Obama Executive Order Seizes U.S. Infrastructure and Citizens for Military Preparedness, Brandon Turbeville, March 17, 2012. In a stunning move, on March 16, 2012, Barack Obama signed an Executive Order stating that the President and his specifically designated Secretaries now have the authority to commandeer all domestic U.S. resources including food and water. The EO also states that the President and his Secretaries have the authority to seize all transportation, energy, and infrastructure inside the United States as well as forcibly induct/draft American citizens into the military. The EO also contains a vague reference in regards to harnessing American citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of national defense.

U.S. Presidential Executive Order, National Defense Resources Preparedness, March 16, 2012.

FireDogLake, Harbinger of the American Spring? Edward Teller, March 18, 2012. I got back from a St. Patrick’s Day Party and started watching the live stream of the police riot in New York City, as they cracked down on the six-month anniversary celebration of Occupy Wall Street. There was an intended message here. Sadly, the way this is turning, it won’t be long before the cops kill somebody. We have to be ready to fight harder when that happens. I covered the student demonstrations at the University of Washington after the Kent State killings for KRAB FM radio. People fought harder then nationwide, after demonstrators were killed by adjuncts of law enforcement. I truly hope we will do that when the inevitable happens again. With firm non-violent action. The authorities will fight hard to keep us from communicating. They will lose. There have been several attempts by either the Obama administration or Democratic Party-affiliated organizations to suborn aspects of OWS, or to derail it when thwarted. Don’t be fooled. At the same time, the administration will be quietly backing legislation on the national and local levels that will try to disorganize us, make taking photographs of cops breaking the law illegal, and cutting off funding or media sources to the most outspoken of us.

New York Times, Democratic Senators Issue Strong Warning About Use of the Patriot Act, Charlie Savage, March 16, 2012. For more than two years, a handful of Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee have warned that the government is secretly interpreting its surveillance powers under the Patriot Act in a way that would be alarming if the public — or even others in Congress — knew about it.
On Thursday, two of those senators — Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado — went further. They said a top-secret intelligence operation that is based on that secret legal theory is not as crucial to national security as executive branch officials have maintained.

Wired, The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say), James Bamford, March 15, 2012. NSA has become the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever. Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013....In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.

BradBlog, Pandemonium at MO GOP Caucus as Party Leaders Seen Attempting to Steal It From Paul Supporters, Brad Friedman, March 18, 2012.  This is just amazing. At yesterday's GOP caucus in St. Charles, MO --- one of the largest and most conservative counties in the state --- the Republican establishment is seen blatantly attempting to steal the caucus from supporters of Ron Paul. As the caucus was prematurely shut down before a vote, with state police called in, no delegates were elected at what "was to have been the biggest single prize of the day," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch coverage of the Missouri Caucuses' mess. It was just the latest, of many, embarrassments to arise out of a GOP caucus state this year.