Thursday, December 10, 2009

EPA Blackmails Congress, and other catchy tunes

Trying to get some reading done, so I don't want to get too elaborate here, but just a quick observation on the rhyming of history, and the tone deafness of those who wait expectantly for history to literally repeat itself, even as the band marches past them, horns ablaring and drums beating the air.

Case in point, the recent declarations from the EPA,
"But Jackson's biggest applause line came when we said she was "proud" of the EPA's declaration Monday that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. "That is a decision that has been a long time coming," she said to a packed crowd in the U.S. Pavillion."
I often hear conservatives and libertarians anxiously prophesying about Obama (as the left did about Bush for the previous 8 years) "You wait! Another 'Reichstag Fire' is coming!", referring to Hitler's using that event as a pretext for assuming power. But there are a couple details these philosophical & historical literalist fundamentalist's fail to take note of.
  1. Hitler needed to get Hindenburg to raise him to having emergency powers. Hitler didn't have the top job at the time. Obama (as with Bush) is already the POTUS.

  2. The 'Reichstag Fire' s have already happened! They've only waited (as events always do) for a leader to take advantage of them!
The sad news for the Bush Derangement Syndrome folks, is that had he wanted to seize total power, he obviously already had 9/11 which could have fully enabled him to try to do so. And while his oversteps and errors were plenty, the fact that cindy sheehun, olberman, matthews, krugman, et all, were never thrown into Leavenworth, or Gitmo, and had the key thrown away (more's the pity) on them, shows that that was never Bush's interest or intent.

For libertarians & conservatives however, ever vigilant for history to provide a literal repeat of a 'Reichstag Fire' for them, they miss that for obama and the left, the 'Reichstag' is on fire and burning bright right now in the form of glowbull warming and healthcontrol.

The already existing powers of our unconstitutional regulatory agencies have only been awaiting an event to serve as pretext for putting their potential power into practice; potentially as effective as Germany's 'Enabling Act' would provide, and the EPA has just announced that this administration feels strong enough, and feel that the pretext is widely enough bought into, that the game is legitimately afoot.

Those sightless sentries staring about for their coming literal fire, are blind and deaf to the crises engines rushing around all about them.

In declaring 'greenhouse gases' to be a health hazard, this particular alphabet regulatory agency, having long ago been handed by congress the ability to regulate with force of law, no longer needs congress, a majority or otherwise, in order to put whatever laws they'd like in place at the direction of the President, via one of his Czar's. The obama administration, through the EPA, is, and not so subtly, blackmailing congress to accept the 'cap & tax' beating in order to avoid a regulatory knifing.

Interesting 'rebut' to that by mediamatters, they merely repeat the obvious meaning that Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Charles Krauthammer stated, that the EPA is blackmailing congress, and they assume that having repeated those charges in "quotes" ("... in the words of Rush Limbaugh, "blackmailing elected officials" to pass cap-and-trade legislation...."), the implied mocking of the opposing argument as being made by "yahoo's", nudge, nudge, wink, wink, is, they feel, sufficient to dismiss it. And thanks to years of jokes by the likes of Jon Stewart and so forth, no argument needs to be made, of course, because none is possible, but it doesn't matter when your audience isn't interested in Reason, neat or sloppy - they only want to be seen as part of the crowd doing the nudging - they just dismiss it as 'unthinkable', which is rapidly becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Congress on the other hand, unless it acts quickly, is in danger of becoming a mere ceremonial figurehead of an institution whose only real purpose will be to provide glamour for it's 'office holders', and to rubber stamp with a patina of legitimacy, the wishes of the current administration. This administration has clearly declared that if congress doesn't act as the administration sees fit, then the administration will take away the congresses opportunity for praise and photo-ops, which will be particularly painful for the preening fops in the Senate.

It is not a foregone conclusion however. They haven't yet succeeded, but they are trying. They tried, and so far failed, to do away with FOX News. They tried, and so far failed, to do away with the Tea Party protestors. They may try, and fail, with this measure - but we - you and I - had better stand up and say something about it, for the current office holders in congress are unlikely to do it for us.

Historical Do-Wop
For a nice example of historical harmonics and rhyme, I offer a passage from Anthony Everitt's "Augustus" (pg 209-211), about Caesar Augustus, who 'saved the republic' after the civil wars,
"...He needed the collaboration of the ruling class, and this they would be unlikely to supply unless they were satisfied with the new order of things.

The Senate was not quite the body it had been. New men from the Italian countryside had filled the many gaps left by the old governing families that been weakened in the civil wars or had lost their money ad estates. Many came from regions that had received citizenship as little as fifty years before. Theirs was an Italian rather than a Roman identity. Even more controversially, leading men from southern Gaul and Spain, were recruited as senators. All these arrivistes saw their fate as inextricably linked to the new regime. So did a good number of impoverished aristocrats, for the astute Augustus took good care to fund them generously and thereby constrain their freedom to oppose him. He bound other noble clans to him by arranging marriages with his relatives."
(Do you feel the beat there? Hear how the harmonies work so well with post-modernists, 'black congressional caucus', new immigrants, 'undocumented workers', ACORN community organizing?)
"Nevertheless, members of the Senate still held a residual, deeply felt belief in Rome's constitution. They would not accept one-man rule; and they expected the state to remain a collective enterprise even if led by one man."
(Again, look for rhymes and harmonies, not literal comparisons, while nullBama would surely like to enjoy the office of the POTUS for as long as possible, these are people who have ceded their individuality to the collective, it is enough for them that their Party have power, the person or office seeming to be held, is of little consequence.)
"The presentation on January 13 of 27 B.C. was a piece of theater, of course. The Senate and the people remained, as they always had been, the sole sources of legal authority, but Augustus did not hand back any real power. In the last analysis he owed his dominant position to the army (and to a lesser extent to the people, who could be relied on to reelect him as consul for as many terms as he liked). It was no accident that his governorship of Spain, Gaul, and Syria gave him the command of twenty legions. [boom-cha, cha boom... California, New York, Massachusetts electoral votes]" The legions had legitimate reason to be there: the northern of the two Spanish provinces was still not entirely subdued; Gaul remained unruly; and Syria abutted the untrustworthy Parthians [historic Iran]. But, by comparison, the "senatorial" provinces, to be governed by proconsuls in the ordinary way, were calm; only three of them required armies [SEIU toot toot], and in total, they commanded five or six legions. Thus, most of Rome's armies were under the command of the princeps; as long as they and their commanders stayed loyal, he was safe."
[Here's where the ACORN blossoms into the Oaken chorus]
"Another important source of Augustus' power was patronage. He had inherited Julius Caesar's empire-wide clientela, and no doubt he had greatly expanded it even before Actium won him Antony's clientela too. His authority across the empire was expressed through a web of personal connections and loyalties, to which no other Roman could remotely aspire. In every community large or small, leading men were under an obligation to him, and were usually rewarded with the gift of Roman citizenship.

Augustus was pleased to boast: "When I had put an end to the civil wars, having acquired supreme power over the empire with universal consent, I transferred the Republic from my control into that of the Senate and People of Rome." [I don't want to run G.M. or the Banks, I'm working as hard as I can to give them back to the people"] "That was literally correct - the machinery of constitutional government came creakily back into operation - but for anyone with eyes to see, the truth of the matter was obvious. The princeps admitted it himself, stating baldly: "After this time, I exceeded everybody in authority.

This was acceptable because Augustus held no unconstitutional or novel office. Broadly speaking, he was acting within precedent. Also, he gave back to the political class its glittering prizes. Once more it became worthwhile to compete for political office (even though the princeps tended to select the candidates). The ambitious and the able could win glory on the floor of the Senate or in the outposts of empire.

It would be wrong to suppose that Romans failed to understand what was going on. They were not deceived. They could see that Augustus' power ultimately rested on force. However, his constitutional settlement gave him legitimacy and signaled a return to the rule of law. For this, most people were sincerely grateful.

Augustus' "restored Republic" was a towering achievement, for it transformed a bankrupt and incompetent polity into a system of government that delivered the rule of law, wide participation by the ruling class, and, at the same time, strong central control. It installed an autocracy with the consent of Rome's - and indeed of Italy's - independent-minded elites. Some Roman historians, among them Tacitus a century or so later, mourned the death of liberty, but at the time politicians, citizens, and subjects of the empire recognized that the new constitutional arrangements would bring stability and the promise of fair and effective public administration."
No, I am not saying that "we are the new Rome" or any other nonsense of the sort, but I am saying, that when you hear a familiar melody in the air, you'd better switch the station quick and start whistling your own tune, or you may find yourself unable to get it out of your head.

Btw, those waiting for the left to acknowledge that the 'ClimateGate' emails show the hoax of glowbull warming, are being foolish. The first rule of wielding "The Big Lie", is that you never admit it! Never, ever, you just minimize and dismiss all objections and contradictions and go right on repeating it, even louder. If we expect results from 'ClimateGate', it is "We The People" who will have to silence the nattering nabobs ourselves, at work, at play, during family dinners and in check-out lines and finally when that has reached a chreshendo, at the ballot box. But don't bother waiting for the left, let alone the goracle, to admit their lie - ain't gonna happen, they are radicals and know their rules.

Well so much for not spending too much time, back to the books.


xlbrl said...

Garet Garrett, in Revolution Was (1937)describes the very same Congress in New Deal 1. The White House ran the show, the Congress rubber stamped it. And why not, since they agreed with it? Easy work, and it was all toward permanent government.

"In a revolutionary situation mistakes and failures are not what they seem. They are scaffolding. Error is not repealed. It is compounded by a longer law, by more decrees and regulations, by further extension of the administrative hand....When you have passed one miracle you have to pass another one to take care of it, so it was with the New Deal.

Revolution in the modern case is no longer an uncouth business. Outside of the Communist Party and its aura of radical intellectuals few Americans seemed to know that revolution had become a department of knowledge, with a philosophy and doctorate of its own, a language, a great body of experimental data, schools of method, textbooks, and manuals. There was a prodigious literature of revolutionary thought concealed only by the respectability of its dress.

To the was knowledge that gave him a sense of power. One who mastered the subject to the point of excellence could be fairly sure of a livelihood by teaching and writing...and meanwhile dream of passing at a single leap from this mean obscurity to the prestige of one who assists in the manipulation of great happenings.
The revolutionary mind that did at length evolve was one of really superior intelligence, clothed with academic dignity...and at ease in all circumstances.
What it represented was a quantity of bitter intellectual radicalism infiltrated from the top downward as a doctorhood of professors, writers, critics, analysts, advisers, administrators, and directors of research-–a prepared revolutionary intelligence in spectacles."

Ex-Dissident said...

Interesting comparison. I was recently thrilled to hear people on the street conversing over the climategate emails. I thought that it was inevitable for the MSM to pick up this story. Sadly, one week later I spoke with misguided family. They didn't hear about the recent cooling period, they thought the controversy was over, was as if these news never even existed. It appears that there is no way to break through the delusional wall surrounding these folks. At some point, you just have to give up trying to reason with them; family or not.