Imperial Presidency only works when the Emperor pays the wages of the army directly out of his own pocket (a la Roman Empire). Otherwise they aren't 'his' armed forces.
I'm trying to fathom a scenario where the President tells the Chairman of the JCS to bomb country X and is told, "No, you don't pay my salary."
In order to refuse an officer has to prove (and note the burden is upon the person rejecting the order) that the order was unlawful. Or, the officer has to resign...that's it, no other options.
You don't want the military saying 'nah, we're not doing that'.....that slope won't end where you think it will.
Members of Congress can't do that. No one else can do that. Makes them effectively 'his' in my book.
Not true at all; Congress has the power of the purse...which can lead to impeachment and removal from office for doing 'unfunded' stuff.
When Clinton openly and wantonly violated the stipulations of the War Powers resolution (namely, not ending combat when he failed to get Congressional authorization within 30 days of initiating hostilities (and then he even carried on beyond the additional 30 days the President is given to extricate forces - in this case, quit launching bombers)) it left me wondering if a President would ever bother again in my lifetime. Bush II did, but our Nobel Prize winner decided the 2001 AUMF was actually open season on nation on earth he wanted to bomb, and he acted accordingly.
See above for the answer.
How do we rein this in?
Right now YOU directly elect your representatives (both in the House and Senate). The fault, Dear Seminole, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.