The Blueprint: A Plan for Living Above Life's Stormsby Kirk Franklin
Because of my background and everything I've been through, I am very passionate about being honest, straight up, and transparent about my struggles as a black man, my lack of education, my frustrations with the church that I am so proudly part of, and my failings, first as a man, then as a boyfriend, and then again as a husband and family man. Although I don't have
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Because of my background and everything I've been through, I am very passionate about being honest, straight up, and transparent about my struggles as a black man, my lack of education, my frustrations with the church that I am so proudly part of, and my failings, first as a man, then as a boyfriend, and then again as a husband and family man. Although I don't have Master's or a Ph.D., I'm going to share with you every lesson I've learned from a life filled with hard knocks. The street corner was my classroom. The hood was my Harvard. And fourteen years of marriage, four kids, a blended family, and a ministry that has allowed me to travel the world have become my laboratory for life.
What I have to offer isn't perfection; it's experience. I've lived through what many of you are experiencing. You see, I didn't have any blueprint when I was coming up, any kind of instruction manual on how to be a man. All you have to do is look at any city corner to know that my education was flawed. And so was my behavior. Many of us had either no blue-print or a bad one.
I am here to tell you that there is a blueprint for how to handle everything that life throws at you. And it's not Kirk Franklin's blueprint. It's the blueprint that's been passed from generation to generation, from Moses on down. It's been time-tested. And I know that whenever I went against it, I was slapped down and was lovingly forced to come correct.
Here is he heartbeat of this book: We have to deal with reality if we're going to come up with a blueprint for our lives. And you are definitely going to get slices of reality in this book, a reality that hopefully will set you and those you love on the right road.
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By KEN BLACKWELL KEN KLUKOWSKI
Lyons PressCopyright © 2010 J. Kenneth Blackwell and Kenneth A. Klukowski
All right reserved.
Chapter OneALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN: THE CZARS
The biggest problems we're facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that's what I intend to reverse when I'm president of the United States. -Senator Barack Obama, March 31, 2008
We're Star Wars fans-and not at all ashamed of it. In fact, we think an argument could be made that liking Star Wars might make you a better American. Case in point: In the final blockbuster installment of the six-part Star Wars movie series, the evil Chancellor Palpatine, citing an "emergency," makes his move to abolish the Constitution that has kept the Galactic republic free for a thousand years. "In order to ensure security and continuing stability," proclaimed the wrinkly chancellor, "the republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic empire! For a safe and secure society!" The chamber leaps to its feet, clapping and cheering their new emperor, a supreme leader with a unified government devoted to realizing his agenda.
All were cheering except for a few statesmen in one booth, who had fought tirelessly to protect the Constitution and keep the republic free. Looking on with despair and disbelief as the crowd showered their praise and adoration on their emperor, one said to the others, "So this is how liberty dies ... with thunderous applause."
* * *
The cheers and applause from his inauguration ceremony had barely faded when Barack Obama made the opening moves in his strategy to transform our republic.
As soon as he was elected, Barack Obama began naming his senior political appointees. Like every president-elect, he announced his nominees for secretaries of State, Treasury, and Defense, for attorney general, and for all the various departments and agencies in the executive branch: Hillary Clinton to State, Janet Reno's old deputy Eric Holder to the Justice Department, Robert Gates to the Pentagon. Also as expected, he named various White House staffers, such as his chief of staff, national security advisor, and press secretary. Such appointments were routine at the time, though Obama may have had second thoughts about them since then. (Watching press secretary Robert Gibbs try to give a press briefing on any given day illustrates this point nicely.)
All of these appointments were normal, the actions of any new president. But unlike other new presidents, Obama also started naming a new type of political appointee. These people would have the powers of Senate-confirmed government officials without ever having to undergo Senate confirmation. They would have budgetary power over vast sums, but would not have to submit to the congressional appropriations process. They would have dozens answering to them, throughout government agencies. But they would answer to no one-except the president.
They are the czars.
There is no more blatant aspect of President Barack Obama's power grab than his czar strategy. Obama has appointed a number of "czars"-executive officials named by this president to wield vast power, often in secret, and answerable only to him. They enable him to avoid congressional oversight and public accountability.
And they are unconstitutional.
What the Heck Is a "Czar"?
President Obama's czars-a key element of the imperial presidency-have centralized unprecedented power in the White House, creating a shadow government. Considering the transparency that Obama promised when running for the White House, the hypocrisy associated with these czars is simply stunning.
Barack Obama's czars come in three types, of varying threat levels to our democracy.
The first-and least dangerous-are Senate-confirmed officials in certain departments in the executive branch, exercising intrusive power into private industry or people's lives. They must testify before Congress, and they hold offices that were lawfully created, but use government power to interfere in the private sector, meddling with the business decisions made by corporate experts and co-opting private companies into extensions of the government.
The second kind consists of certain presidential appointees in various White House offices invented by Congress. These offices are authorized by Congress and have a mission defined by statute. some are even Senate-confirmed. But these officials are part of the Executive Office of the President (EOP), and some are part of the White House Office (WHO), which primarily consists of those directly answering to the president or his immediate staff. As such, these czars in EOP, and especially those listed as part of WHO, are shielded from all sorts of congressional accountability and oversight, even while shaping major aspects of national policy.
The third-and most dangerous-are officials named by President Obama to certain posts that Obama fashions out of thin air. Almost all are White House staff officials exercising the sort of power found in Cabinet secretaries or undersecretaries (which are senate-confirmed positions), but were simply named to these brand-new positions by President Obama. These officials, and even the offices they fill, were simply created by executive fiat.
Each of these czars is dangerous. Most, if not all, are illegal-for several reasons. All of them must go, and the republic is not safe until they're gone.
No One's Had Czars like Obama
President Obama's defenders love to trot out the line that previous presidents have had czars. It's only fair to acknowledge that other presidents have, in fact, had appointees that were called czars. For example, George H. W. Bush appointed Bill Bennett (Ronald Reagan's education secretary) as America's "drug czar." The real title for that position is the director of the White House office of national Drug Control Policy. That office was created by Congress, and everyone refers to its director as the drug czar because it's easy to remember and the title is not such a mouthful. And Bill Clinton appointed an AIDs czar. So sure, there have been czars before.
But not like this.
While other presidents have had one or two appointees nicknamed "czars," Barack Obama is using dozens of czars to actually run much of the federal government. Few people object to the idea of someone in the White House focused on finding policies to keep drugs away from kids. But now whole areas of national policy have been taken inside the White House and vested in these czars, removed from the democratic process and input from the people's elected representatives in Congress. Worse still, some of these czars are specifically overseeing vitally important matters for this country.
At the moment of this writing, there is only one of the first types of czar (the least-dangerous type, from a constitutional standpoint). He is Herb Allison, the Troubled Asset relief Program (TARP) czar. His official title is the assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial stability. This person has the power to direct the hundreds of billions of dollars in the financial bailout (the TARP program) to stabilize the American financial sector. He has enormous power that interferes with the private sector and injects politics into corporate America, but at least we have some safeguards against too much abuse from this office. It's terrible policy, but not inherently illegal.
Another czar that may fall into this category is mark Lloyd, the diversity czar whose official title is the chief diversity officer of the Federal Communications Commission. As part of the FCC, Lloyd is not part of the White House staff, and his position is not Senate-confirmed, either. Lloyd is discussed in detail in chapter 8, as he is the White House's point man on banning conservative talk radio.
The other czars, all of whom belong to the two most dangerous varieties, are listed below. They operate entirely within the White House.
There are other czars as well, some even created by George W. Bush: the terrorism czar, and the war czar who coordinates the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But while Bush and previous presidents had five or fewer czars, President Obama has more than thirty. The issue is not so much that any such czars exist, but that the president has enough of them, holding exactly the right positions of power, to run much of the government completely outside the constitutional framework.
Together, these czars form a shadow government. Whole swaths of federal power, both policymaking (i.e., lawmaking) and enforcement, have been concentrated in the White House under President Obama's exclusive control. Power that once was vested in agencies, or determined to be outside the proper scope of government, has now been seized by the White House. We are witnessing a massive, unconstitutional power grab.
These Czars Are Unconstitutional
Quick review: The Constitution of the United States is a remarkable document. Article I of the Constitution creates the legislative branch and establishes the offices of House and Senate members. Article II sets forth the executive branch and establishes the offices of the president and vice president. And Article III maps out the judicial branch, with the offices of supreme Court justices and the judges of any lower federal courts Congress creates by statute. Just like that, in three articles, our Founding Fathers created the most stable government in history.
It's a strong framework-one that allows Congress to fill in the blanks by creating new offices when needed. Why is congressional power to create new offices a big deal? Three reasons:
First, if an office is a creation of Congress, then Congress has a right to exercise oversight, and so the person holding that office can be required to appear before Congress and testify under oath about his actions.
Second, offices created by Congress are covered by the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires public hearings and records when decisions are made, leaving a paper trail. The APA also empowers people or companies affected by these decisions to sue in federal court, allowing a judge to see if the evidence supports what the agency did. The APA makes government transparent.
And third, all of these offices have separate lines in Congress's annual appropriations bills. This gives Congress the power of the purse, meaning legislators can get information about activities to decide whether to continue funding them.
These three safeguards help make government work for the people. But the Obama presidency has decided they're simply in the way, and have exempted themselves from each of them.
How has Obama been accomplishing this? By ignoring the law. The Constitution's framework lays out two types of positions in the executive branch: principal officers and inferior officers. The first of these are nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. For less-important government officers, called inferior officers, Congress decides whether they are appointed either by the president, agency heads, or the courts, and they do not require Senate confirmation. (Congress can never authorize itself to appoint officers, however, our Founding Fathers didn't trust government. For separation-of-powers reasons, the only branch that can create a federal office-Congress-is the only one that can't fill those offices. Brilliant, right?)
It's a fuzzy line separating principal officers from inferior officers. Courts consider several factors in distinguishing between the two types of executive officers, like whether the officer is subject to removal by another officer, the nature of the officer's duties, the scope of his jurisdiction, and how long he serves. But principal officers go all the way down the governmental food chain to assistant secretaries and deputy undersecretaries. If the assistant secretary of agriculture for civil rights and the deputy undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, then it doesn't really pass the laugh test that a government official running General Motors or overseeing the national economy doesn't need to be Senate-confirmed.
But whether such positions require Senate confirmation or not, the important fact remains that all these offices must be created by Congress. Congress never created a car czar to run the nation's largest automakers. Yet Ron Bloom (a former union official) now controls General motors, dictating what cars GM will make and wielding the power to fire its executives. And one CEO has already been canned because Automaker in Chief Obama didn't approve of him. Congress never established an office to regulate executive compensation, yet pay czar Kenneth Feinberg has the power to dictate how much any senior employee at any company taking bailout funds can make. And they're now talking about regulating all companies, whether they took bailout funds or not.
Two key constitutional principles protect our republic:
Separation of powers: The Constitution divides government power between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches to keep any one branch-or one person-from having too much power.
Checks and balances: The Constitution gives each of the three branches a check over the power of the other two, to use government power to keep other government power in check.
Both principles protect the liberty of the American people from an overreaching, all-powerful government. And both are thrown out the window by the existence of President Obama's czars.
Need an Example? Just Look at Ambassadors
If this all seems a bit theoretical, there's one type of czar that perfectly shows how this whole system is constitutionally illegal. The president's apologists can bicker over what sort of appointees need Senate confirmation, but there's at least one office that's beyond doubt: In Article II, the Constitution says that all ambassadors must be confirmed by the Senate. On that point, President Obama is clearly in violation.
An ambassador is appointed by the president to represent the United States to foreign nations. While the White House or State Department often sends higher-ranking officers to handle especially dicey situations or weighty matters, sometimes even sending the secretary of state, all those individuals whose full-time, permanent duties are to represent America are ambassadors. Yet Obama has named Richard Holbrooke (the Afghanistan czar) as Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, George Mitchell (the Mideast peace czar) as Special Envoy to the Middle East, and J. Scott Gration (the Sudan czar) as Special Envoy to Sudan.
These men are not "special envoys"; they're ambassadors. They speak for our country, representing the president and his foreign policy, with the power to represent our nation in deliberations and negotiations with the foreign nations they're visiting. We cannot have one man assigning such power to anyone he wants. The Founding Fathers knew that, and so they put a constitutional check on the president with Senate confirmation of ambassadors.
So why haven't these three men stood for confirmation? Just look at their assignments: Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East. That's about as important as it gets; those are among the hottest spots around the globe where our vital interests are at stake. If the U.S. ambassadors to Micronesia, Sri Lanka, and Belgium (countries that most people can't even find on a map) require Senate confirmation, then why is that constitutional check not in play when it comes to delicate relations with areas that could lead us all to a nuclear war?
Because President Obama wants to completely control the foreign policy concerning those countries without having to consult with the Senate or without having any of his lieutenants be subject to oversight. So he calls them "special envoys" instead of ambassadors to avoid the confirmation process. But if these guys aren't ambassadors, then we don't know what an ambassador is. And since one of your authors served as an ambassador to the United Nations (Blackwell-and yes, I had to be confirmed by the Senate), we think we know an ambassador when we see one. And we're pretty sure Obama does too.
Excerpted from THE BLUEPRINT by KEN BLACKWELL KEN KLUKOWSKI Copyright © 2010 by J. Kenneth Blackwell and Kenneth A. Klukowski. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are saying about this
"Kirk Franklin takes the church beyond the traditional, transitioning his life's experiences into life lessons."
"Franklin mixed 'God and grit' to create an honest map for the life he prays others will lead."
"If you're in need of a spiritual boost, you'll rise up after reading The Blueprint."
"A perfect gift for a graduate. Gospel superstar Kirk Franklin provides readers with a "blueprint" for how to rise above obstacles on the road to success."
"Franklin shares his personal trials and triumphs and how he used them to propel him to success."
"Kirk Franklin puts his gospel on the page. A down-to-earth spiritual guide for anyone trying to 'live above life's storms.'"
"The book reads like a conversation with Franklin, combining his hip language with vivid, realistic scenarios that readers can easily see themselves in as he approaches key life lessons."
"Whether you're down and out, misguided, or simply need a boost to push forward, The Blueprint is the essential guide to creating a better you, one day at a time. Success doesn't come easy, but it will come with a helping hand. Follow The Blueprint and start living the life you were always meant to live."
Meet the Author
Kirk Franklin is the top gospel artist in Nielsen Soundscan history, selling more than twelve million albums and more than twenty #1 gospel hits. The host of his own BET talent search program, Sunday Best, he is the winner of seven Grammy awards, six NAACP awards, and many other honors. Also the author of the memoir, Church Boy: My Music and My Life, he lives in Texas with his wife, Tammy, and their four children.
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