Presidential Emergency Action Documents

National Emergencies Act (1976)

PEAD.wc-sullivan-fbi-memo-on-pads-1967-620I’m an old political science major. Yet I was only vaguely aware of a Presidential Emergency Action Documents (PEADs). The Brennan Center for Justice knows, though. They are “executive orders, proclamations, and messages to Congress that are prepared in anticipation of a range of emergency scenarios.

“PEADs are classified ‘secret,’ and no PEAD has ever been declassified or leaked. Indeed, it appears that they are not even subject to congressional oversight.”

I recommend that you check out CBS Sunday Morning from 16 August 2020, at 3:50. Better, go or here with full text, which runs a little over 10 minutes. “Ted Koppel investigates White House directives, granting vast powers to the president, that are so secret even Congress cannot see them.”

Almost without limit

“Although PEADs themselves remain a well-kept secret, over the years a number of unclassified or de-classified documents have become available that discuss PEADs. Through these documents, we know that there were 56 PEADs in effect as of 2018, up from 48 a couple of decades earlier. PEADs undergo periodic revision, these documents are mostly in PDF format, so software as Soda PDF is required to open them. Although we do not know what PEADs contain today, we know that PEADs in past years—
-authorized detention of “alien enemies” and other “dangerous persons” within the United States;
-suspended the writ of habeas corpus by presidential order;
-provided for various forms of martial law;
-issued a general warrant permitting search and seizure of persons and property;
-established military areas such as those created during World War II;
-suspended production of the Federal Register;
-declared a State of War; and
-authorized censorship of news reports.”

The CBS News piece is troubling. In part, it’s because it quotes the incumbent. In March 2020, he stated, “I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.” The following month, “when discussing guidelines to be issued to governors about reopening states during the coronavirus pandemic,” he said something I found quite chilling. “‘When somebody is the President of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be – it’s total.'”


Worse, in a January 2019 article in The Atlantic, Elizabeth Goitein notes The Alarming Scope of the President’s Emergency Powers.

Aiming to rein in this proliferation [of Presidential declarations], Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976. Under this law, the president still has complete discretion to issue an emergency declaration. But he must specify in the declaration which powers he intends to use… The state of emergency expires after a year unless the president renews it. The Senate and the House must meet every six months while the emergency is in effect ‘to consider a vote’ on termination.

“By any objective measure, the law has failed. Thirty states of emergency are in effect… And during the 40 years that the law has been in place, Congress has not met even once, let alone every six months, to vote on whether to end them.

“As a result, the president has access to emergency powers contained in 123 statutory provisions, as recently calculated by the Brennan Center for Justice, where Goitein works.

Those of us who believe in democracy don’t want ANY President with this much power. And certainly, not one who has suggested he would use it indiscriminately.

H is for hero pose

A couple surgeons on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy utilized the superhero pose.

wonder-woman“When you’re weary, feeling small,” taking on the hero pose, specifically the stance of a comic book superhero may help.

“The ‘superhero stance’ — the physical pose in which the superhero stands with legs spread apart, arms on hips, elbows bent…. projects power. It’s an example of what psychologists refer to as an open posture, in which limbs are spread out in a way to take up more space…

“Open postures contrast with closed postures, in which the body takes up relatively little space. Numerous psychological studies have demonstrated that open postures convey a sense of the individual having power and closed postures convey a sense of the individual having little power.”

One article suggests the methodology: “Have a high-stakes event in the next few minutes? Before it begins, find a place to strike some grand heroic pose(s). Hold the aforementioned pose(s) for 2 minutes. That’s it.”

It has become so much of the culture that a couple of surgeons on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy utilized the technique.

Amy Cuddy, one of the researchers on power posing, along with Dana Carney and Andy Yap, has done a well-regarded TED talk on the topic.

John Marcotte has also done a TED talk, with an emphasis on getting women and girls to #PoseLikeASuperhero. He “challenges the audience to look beyond what is labeled as ‘girly’ or ‘feminine’ by covering everything from his superhero loving daughters, and the problem with genderized toy aisles, to the effects that Barbie, Mrs. Potato Head, ‘princess culture,’ and Frozen have on both girls and boys.”

Totally coincidentally, the Daughter is working on some Science Fair project involving the Pose, with herself as the subject. How one objectively measures feeling “better” I don’t know, yet.

ABC Wednesday – Round 18

Strange day – August 5: loss of power, THEN the flood

Elberon Place, which is about eight blocks from our house, and Hackett Boulevard, not much farther in a different direction, were particularly hard hit by the flooding, as was downtown.

Hackett Blvd, Albany, 5 Aug 2014
Hackett Blvd, Albany, 5 Aug 2014

Monday night, sometime around 9:45 p.m., I’m watching recorded television when the power goes out, just for a fraction of a second, but enough to make the sound of the air conditioner go off, then surge back on. A couple of minutes later, the power flickers again, less noticeably.

I go to bed, but it’s nocturus interruptus – see the upcoming 8/11 post. Go to work, tired. The Wife calls me on her cellphone to tell me the power’s out at the house – as it turns out for somewhere between three and five hours – because of some electrical cable problem in the area.

After work, I was going to go to the barbershop, but I hear rumbles of thunder, so I attach the bike first to one bus, then another, and hightail it home. And a good thing, too.

I’ve lived in Albany for 35 years. It has rained more than 2.6 inches (6.6 cm) before in a sustained event. But I have no recollection of ever seeing it all come down in an HOUR, plus wind, hail, lightning. Water from our front lawn poured out onto the street so fast that I think anyone walking out there would have been knocked down.

Check out photos HERE and HERE. Elberon Place, which is about eight blocks from our house, and Hackett Boulevard, not much farther in a different direction, were particularly hard hit, as was downtown., and suburban Latham. Some folks lost power, but we did not a second time.

Yet other nearby cities and towns, such as Schenectady, got NOTHING. I heard several stories of spouses calling to say, “You’d better stay where you are during this storm,” and the other person responds, “What ARE you talking about?” It was a very narrow band of very nasty weather that also uprooted some trees.

New York State found a $4.2 billion surplus in this year’s budget recently. I agree that a good chunk of it ought to address the aging infrastructure of our cities.
“Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy directed that flags on county buildings be flown at half-staff for 30 days in honor of Guilderland native Maj. General Harold J. Greene who died in the line of duty in Afghanistan on August 5, 2014.” State buildings will do likewise for a period. Greene, who went to college at RPI in nearby Troy, was the highest-ranking American officer to die in a combat zone since the Vietnam war.

The general’s father, who is 85 or so, was interviewed on a local news station – he still lives in Albany County – but he did not want to be shown on camera, so they showed his hands, holding an unlit cigarette, then his sneakers. It made for very odd television.


Unhappy Valley

It’s POWER, and the peculiar notion that “we can look the other way because of the rightness of our cause.”

As you may know, Joe Paterno, coach of the Penn State University football team for 46 years, was fired this week, along with the university president, Graham Spanier. Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky…has been indicted on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years… Paterno, who, reportedly, was specifically told of one terrible incident, and mentioned it to university authorities without any follow-up, had been revered on the campus. The football program had been a model of a “clean” program. If you have the stomach for it, check out the grand jury indictment against Sandusky [PDF], which, as the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office noted, “details a disturbing pattern of sexual assaults on young boys, all of whom Sandusky met through his involvement in the charitable organization known as The Second Mile – an organization that Sandusky himself founded.”

It was clear to me early on that Paterno had to go, preferably before this weekend’s home game; he is the face of PSU. It’s peculiar to me, though, how people who don’t follow sports are blaming the influence of sports in society for this debacle. It’s not just sports per se, or religion (see: the sex coverups THERE) or politics. It’s POWER, and the peculiar notion that “we can look the other way because of the rightness of our cause.” As this ESPN article notes: “Joe Paterno and Penn State officials were faced with a critical choice about damning information and chose to protect the program. This is what power has become. This is what power has always been.”

So the following morning, my wife tells me that the students are rioting because Paterno got fired. Surely she’s mistaken; maybe they were rioting as a result of the outrage over the stain to their community. Nope, she was right, although, in the light of day, some students have been wearing pins in support of the victims of the alleged crime.

For a greater understanding of the complexities of this case, I recommend the two articles cited here.

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