* In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. - George Orwell *
This blog gives current examples of how George Orwell's novel became a primer for the American government circa 2014
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
The new despostism
The Wall St. Journal is often a source of NEWSPEAK, but here it identifies one of the most pervasive Orwellian developments of our time. The real fascists--the oligarchy in Washington DC, abetted by the media--are calling Trump a fascist because Trump is exposing their corruption. Let's hope the people support Trump this time around.
Hillary’s Soft Despotism
She prefers the hidden authoritarianism of the vast and growing administrative state.
Donald Trump is Hilter. Donald Trump is a fascist. Donald Trump is a dictator.
Certainly Mr. Trump has a mouth, and he’s not afraid to use it. He also speaks to adoring crowds who cheer when he says to respond in kind to activists trying to disrupt his rallies. Even so, the over-the-top claims that Mr. Trump is the new Il Duce may be distracting attention from the soft despotism that Tocqueville deemed the far likelier menace to American liberties.
This kind of authoritarianism doesn’t come with goose steps or brown shirts or large populist movements. It prefers bureaucracy to bombast. It presents itself as a solution to the complexities of modern government, and it’s called the administrative state.
Philip Hamburger—a Columbia law professor and author of the 2015 book “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?”—defines the administrative state as the substitution of regulatory edicts for laws passed by the people’s elected representatives. In the American iteration, at least, this often means the same federal agency that writes the rules also enforces and adjudicates them—a confluence of powers Madison once called the “very definition of tyranny.”
Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally in Chicago, March 14.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Mr. Hamburger maintains that the threat of the administrative state is nothing new, notwithstanding the assumption of some conservatives who would date it to the progressive theories of Woodrow Wilson or the rise of the New Deal. By contrast, Mr. Hamburger says the Founders well understood this threat, familiar as they were with English constitutional history and the centuries-long struggle to limit the extralegal prerogatives of kings (Star Chambers anyone?).
Now, it’s certainly possible that a President Trump would seed the federal agencies with men and women who would abuse their powers for Trumpian outcomes. In real life, however, the compulsion to decree to one’s neighbor what’s best for him (and use the federal government to enforce it) is an affliction of modern American liberalism. In other words, the kind of people Hillary Clinton, if elected, would rely on to fill the federal bureaucracies, every last one of them eager and willing to impose rules on the American people that would never fly in Congress.
What kind of rules and regulations? Here are a few instances from recent years:
• In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, the IRS targets groups regarded as enemies of the president—pro-Israel, pro-life, pro-tea-party, etc. When this became public, its officials, including the new IRS commissioner, John Koskinen, make clear their contempt for congressional panels trying to investigate.
• In a frontal assault on religious liberty, the Department of Health and Human Services issues a mandate that would force the Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic nuns who run homes for the elderly poor, to offer their employees contraceptives the sisters regard as a violation of their faith. They are threatened with fines of $100 per employee per day if they refuse, which adds up to $70 million a year—equal to about a third of their operating budget.
• Andy Johnson builds a pond on his Wyoming property to provide water for his horses and cattle after securing all the required local and state permits. The Environmental Protection Agency steps in and accuses him of violating the Clean Water Act (even though he in fact has created a wetlands) and orders him to undo what he’d done—or face fines of $37,500 per day. As Mr. Johnson fights, he has racked up accumulated fines of $20 million.
According to the most recent edition of “Ten Thousand Commandments”—the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual survey of federal regulations—in 2014 federal agencies issued 3,554 regulations while Congress passed only 224 new laws. That is 16 new regulations for every new law.
The result is the effective transfer of power from the American people acting through their elected representatives to the American people being told what to do—and threatened with crushing fines if they do not—by federal bureaucracies that use the vague congressional language in everything from Dodd-Frank to the Affordable Care Act to impose their own interpretations. Even worse, under the Supreme Court’s 1984 Chevrondecision, the courts are basically told they must defer.
President Obama didn’t create rule by the administrative state. But he may have best captured its spirit two years ago when, in response to a question about congressional resistance to his agenda, he declared his pen mightier than the law: “I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.”
And he has.
Now he hopes to pass the pen to Mrs. Clinton. And surely the one Hillary promise we can all believe is that, when it comes to ruling by executive fiat and using the federal bureaucracies to impose her agenda, she stands to outdo even Mr. Obama.
Which leaves us here: At a moment when the media is thick with characterizations of Donald Trump as the new Hitler, America might do well to devote some attention to the soft despotism of the woman who promises to further embolden this unelected, unaccountable and out-of-control fourth branch of government.