Free Markets, Free People


Governing By Expert

On last night’s podcast, Dale and I discussed the rise of a soft tyranny and expansion of the regulatory state in this country. Pres. Obama has, on more than one occasion, unilaterally declared the power to pick and choose what laws to enforce, or to simply change the way they are enforced, without any consequences (i.e. checks and/or balances). He’s not the first POTUS to act that way (albeit the most brazen about it), and probably won’t be the last.

The primary reason he, or any other POTUS, is even able to act this way is because of the massive regulatory apparatus at the disposal of the Executive branch. An apparatus created by Congress; one it seems strangely reluctant to rein in. As Kevin Williamson notes, “Barack Obama did not invent managerial liberalism,” and while his agenda is painfully horrendous, it’s “a good deal less ambitious than was Woodrow Wilson’s or Richard Nixon’s.” However, Obama has used the leeway provided by Congresses past and present to further expand the regulatory state. Williamson characterizes this as Obama’s “utterly predictable approach to domestic politics: appoint a panel of credentialed experts.”

His faith in the powers of pedigreed professionals is apparently absolute. Consider his hallmark achievement, the Affordable Care Act, the centerpiece of which is the appointment of a committee, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the mission of which is to achieve targeted savings in Medicare without reducing the scope or quality of care. How that is to be achieved was contemplated in detail neither by the lawmakers who wrote the health-care bill nor by the president himself. But they did pay a great deal of attention to the processes touching IPAB: For example, if that committee of experts fails to achieve the demanded savings, then the ball is passed to . . . a new committee of experts, this one under the guidance of the secretary of health and human services. IPAB’s powers are nearly plenipotentiary: Its proposals, like a presidential veto, require a supermajority of Congress to be overridden.

IPAB is the most dramatic example of President Obama’s approach to government by expert decree, but much of the rest of his domestic program, from the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law to his economic agenda, is substantially similar. In total, it amounts to that fundamental transformation of American society that President Obama promised as a candidate: but instead of the new birth of hope and change, it is the transformation of a constitutional republic operating under laws passed by democratically accountable legislators into a servile nation under the management of an unaccountable administrative state. The real import of Barack Obama’s political career will be felt long after he leaves office, in the form of a permanently expanded state that is more assertive of its own interests and more ruthless in punishing its enemies. At times, he has advanced this project abetted by congressional Democrats, as with the health-care law’s investiture of extraordinary powers in the executive bureaucracy, but he also has advanced it without legislative assistance — and, more troubling still, in plain violation of the law. President Obama and his admirers choose to call this “pragmatism,” but what it is is a mild expression of totalitarianism, under which the interests of the country are conflated with those of the president’s administration and his party.

(emphasis added)

I likened the expansion and independence of the regulatory state to 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Terminator in that these things that were created to ostensibly serve in the aid of their users developed a life, mind and interests of their own, and eventually turned on the users. A perfect example would be if the IRS scandal of targeting conservatives turns out to be completely divorced of any political direction, and instead was completely self-initiated from within the department. As James Taranto often points out, that is the far scarier scenario than the one where the White House directed the agency to target its political enemies. Corrupt politicians are bad, but they are expected and can be dealt with in a summary manner. An unelected, unaccountable and extremely powerful organization exercising its own political agenda is orders of magnitude worse.

Williamson continues:

Democracy never lasts long,” [John] Adams famously said. “It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” For liberal regimes, a very common starting point on the road to serfdom is the over-delegation of legislative powers to the executive. France very nearly ended up in a permanent dictatorship as a result of that error, and was spared that fate mostly by good luck and Charles de Gaulle’s patriotism. Long before she declared her infamous state of emergency, Indira Gandhi had been centralizing power in the prime minister’s office, and India was spared a permanent dictatorship only by her political miscalculation and her dynasty-minded son’s having gotten himself killed in a plane wreck. Salazar in Portugal, Austria under Dollfuss, similar stories. But the United States is not going to fall for a strongman government. Instead of delegating power to a would-be president-for-life, we delegate it to a bureaucracy-without-death. You do not need to install a dictator when you’ve already had a politically supercharged permanent bureaucracy in place for 40 years or more. As is made clear by everything from campaign donations to the IRS jihad, the bureaucracy is the Left, and the Left is the bureaucracy. Elections will be held, politicians will come and go, but if you expand the power of the bureaucracy, you expand the power of the Left, of the managers and minions who share Barack Obama’s view of the world. Barack Obama isn’t the leader of the free world; he’s the front man for the permanent bureaucracy, the smiley-face mask hiding the pitiless yawning maw of total politics.

(emphasis added)

I would add that, if the politics were reversed (i.e. “the bureaucracy is Right, and the Right is bureaucracy”) we would still have the same issue: an unaccountable power structure that invades every aspect of our lives. Coupled with a President who exercises that power based on political whims, and we have a serious issue:

The job of the president is to execute the law — that is what the executive branch is there to do. If Barack Obama had wanted to keep pursuing his career as a lawmaker, then the people of Illinois probably would have been content to preserve him in the Senate for half a century or so. As president, he has no more power to decide not to enforce the provisions of a duly enacted federal law than does John Boehner, Anthony Weiner, or Whoopi Goldberg. And unlike them, he has a constitutional duty to enforce the law.

So, one might ask (as Dale did last night), why isn’t the President being impeached for dereliction of duty? Partisan politics is one answer (see, e.g., the failure of the Clinton impeachment). A lack of will is another. Perhaps the simplest answer, however, is that Congress is quite complicit in this expansion and abuse of the regulatory state:

Congress’s supine ceding of its powers, and the Obama administration’s usurpation of both legal and extralegal powers, is worrisome. But what is particularly disturbing is the quiet, polite, workaday manner with which the administration goes about its business — and with which the American public accepts it. As Christopher Hitchens once put it, “The essence of tyranny is not iron law; it is capricious law.”

[snip]

Barack Obama’s administration is unmoored from the institutions that have long kept the imperial tendencies of the American presidency in check. That is partly the fault of Congress, which has punted too many of its legislative responsibilities to the president’s army of faceless regulators, but it is in no small part the result of an intentional strategy on the part of the administration. He has spent the past five years methodically testing the limits of what he can get away with, like one of those crafty velociraptors testing the electric fence in Jurassic Park. Barack Obama is a Harvard Law graduate, and he knows that he cannot make recess appointments when Congress is not in recess. He knows that his HHS is promulgating regulations that conflict with federal statutes. He knows that he is not constitutionally empowered to pick and choose which laws will be enforced. This is a might-makes-right presidency, and if Barack Obama has been from time to time muddled and contradictory, he has been clear on the point that he has no intention of being limited by something so trivial as the law.

I agree with Williamson that Obama has pushed the limits, but I think he lets Congress off the hook too easily. Every POTUS presses the limits. Indeed, Williamson provides the example of Nixon’s abuses, and even compares Obama favorably: “… it is impossible to imagine President Obama making the announcement that President Richard Nixon did on August 15, 1971: ‘I am today ordering a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States.’” Williamson notes that Nixon was able to make that announcement because of power invested in him by Congress. Just as Obama has been entrusted with incredible power via such instruments as the IPAB which requires a super-majority of Congress to override its decisions. While Obama is bad, clearly the issue here is that Congress isn’t doing its job either.

Recall that in Federalist #51, James Madison explained that the way the Constitution controls the new federal government, such that “the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights”, was to divide the different departments in a way that each had interests sufficiently distinct from one another so as to provide an incentive for each to jealously guard those interests and maintain their power. This system of checks and balances was meant to prevent consolidation of power in any one part of the government.

The problem we seem to have run into since then is when the two most powerful departments combine their interests and secret away their combined powers in an unaccountable regulatory apparatus, safe from the will of the electorate. That the office of POTUS would be willing to do this is to be expected, and indeed is a large part of why there was much resistance to its creation. However, that Congress has done so much to aid and abet the effort is contemptible. Unless and until Congress rights the balance, and vigorously pursues its checking role, the problem will only worsen.

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66 Responses to Governing By Expert

  • http://cnsnews.com/news/article/mark-levin-states-should-call-convention-propose-amending-constitution
    EZZZZZzzzzactly. I’ve been saying this for a couple of decades now.
    Are there risks? Sure. I trust the people, though.

    • A Constitutional amendment today would serve to codify the welfare/police state.
      I trust a few of the people, but let us remember that our present multiple crises stem from the people voting themselves goodies, and giving power to the Feds to ensure those goodies, since the Progressive era over 100 years ago.
       

      • Did you read and listen?
        The Constitution belongs to the people.  If they vote to destroy it, we have our directions.

      • “A Constitutional amendment today would serve to codify the welfare/police state.”
        I’m far from convinced of that.

        • I’m not.  The Left’s machine is far better prepared than the right.  The Left has been 2 steps ahead.

          And they’ll protect their amendment proposals by accusations of racism if opposed which everyone shrinks away from.

          • Look around.  Who controls most of the states?  There is a reason gun control died (this time around), and that gun sales are at record levels.
            Right?

          • You really think they are not prepared for this?  My local media outlets used to be old fashioned left biased only until about 3-4 years ago.  Two of the 3 major ones are now in the tank MSNBC style. 

            They are prepared to put the screws to local politicians soon like they do national politicians. 

            There’s sort of mechanism with talk radio and the internet for national grass roots movements.  State level is much much more difficult to spearhead one. 

          • To Rags, below:
            The states that are in hock up to their eyeballs for pensions and other frivolous programs?
            Gun control/RTC is a popular issue right now; rolling back the welfare state ISN’T.

          • Those states are generally BLUE states, sharps.  And, as I said, the Constitution is not sacrosanct.  It BELONGS to the people.  IF it is altered to conform with a new, BAD vision, at least it is a valid charter.  Right now, it is more ignored than honored.
            I’d like the issues put to the people, as someone who DOES believe in self-government AND the rule of law.

    • I trust the people, though

      >>>>> You shouldn’t.

  • Well, of course wise pragmatic moderate leftist experts should be running society. How can there be any doubt?

    Only we have the training to know what people ought to be doing and thinking. Left to their own devices, people will gravitate to bad behavior, such as not buying health insurance that covers things such as free birth control, psychological counseling, and maternity benefits for sterile women and transgendered men. Oh, and transgendering operations, because anyone might need one of those at some point in their life.

    Not me, of course. I’m not either gender confused. So shut up about I tried to raise my kids in a gender neutral way. I did, but my divorce had nothing to with that. Neither did the fact that the marriage had turned to a soulless husk because I have about as much masculine charm as Ellen Degeneres. Hey, I’ll have you know that a former student is now my girlfriend, and I’m getting some again. So there.

    Seriously, we need to stop people from believing silly and preposterous things, as many of you ex-military basket cases around here do. Some thick righties even believe they should vote for people like Sarah Palin. Especially those guys who are driven by hormones to be completely taken in by her ample bosom, especially when she winks behind those naughty librarian glasses. She might as well just come out and say that she’s ready to take the whole crew to bed at once.

    Only we wise pragmatic moderate leftists like Obama (who thinks like me) have both the ability and the good intentions to resist such nonsense and make these life decisions for everyone. The Europeans figured this out long ago, and we should be more like them. So shut up about their healthcare systems that don’t treat terminal cancer or thirty thousand people dying in a heat wave. Just shut up about that, and admit that they run society so much better than we do. They have special schools where wise pragmatic moderate leftists can be trained for a career in public service. And no cracks about “special” schools. I’m talking about places with “advanced” in the name, like the one that gave me a doctorate.

    Which wasn’t either given just to get rid of me because even other political scientists can’t stand me. And it’s totally a coincidence that I’m at a moose college in the middle of nowhere with only a couple of other mediocre political scientists who coincidentally both happen to be somewhere to the left of Bill Ayers.

    Yes, we wise moderate leftists with our quantum spirituality can easily help you dense righties see how Obamacare is going to be just fine and a boon to our country. Just listen to us and have faith in us. Look at Canada and their wonderful system, for example. We need to be more like that, and don’t you dare start up about how anyone with money comes to the US for treatment and there are clinics across the border specializing in treating them.

    You really need to shut up about the whole market-driven thing. Markets don’t adjust themselves. I decree it in the name of my godlike power of political science and my abiding faith in quantum spirituality. Markets need wise pragmatic leftists constantly adjusting the levers, or they will descend into corporatism and anarchy. And there’s certainly no danger that giving that much power to wise pragmatic leftists will descend in authoritarian government where the bureaucracy starts to put its own needs ahead of the people. Wise pragmatic people have wonderful intentions, so they would simply never do that.

    And don’t start about how those phony scandals prove otherwise. There’s nothing to them. How many times do I have to tell you that? Benghazi isn’t a scandal. In fact, I’m about convinced that there’s not even such a place as Benghazi, it’s really a fictional place made up by republicans in a story about heroic Navy Seals.

    IRS, NSA, Fast and Furious – none of that is important to anyone but you dense righties. You have lost, and you might as well admit it. Your time is past. You are living in the past. There is no question about it – you are wrong about everything.

    But I’d love for you to engage with me and discuss it. Differing viewpoints and all that. Which isn’t either contradictory with what I just said, so stop saying that. Really, I’m reaching out to you and want to engage with you. I promise I won’t just handwave away anything you come up with that contradicts my positions. Really. Come on, build up some momentum, and come and kick that football.

    It will be fun! We’ll discuss and discuss, back and forth a thousand times, with you presenting your so-called evidence and me patiently explaining why it doesn’t matter and you’re ignorant and wrong about everything. And how you should take classes from me to cure your ignorance.

    From me, now, not any of those other hundred thousand resources on the web by people with a far more prominent reputation than I have. No, they can’t give you the personal attention I can give you. Which isn’t either just smug condescension to make myself feel superior to people with far more success and real world engagement than I will ever have. Stop saying that.

    • “Moderate Lefties” – protecting their phony-baloney jobs…. :-)

      • Perhaps the federal government should adopt a private sector practice … layoff 10% of your staff annually.
        The assumption is that 10% are always below par, disinterested … you know, all those thing that resemble somebody with the symptoms of ADHD/ADD.

        • In too many places, that would be much of the management.
          In the years I ran $3-10million department, the most brain-dead characters I ran across were my peers and superiors during management meetings.

  • “In fact, I’m about convinced that there’s not even such a place as Benghazi, it’s really a fictional place made up by republicans in a story about heroic Navy Seals.”Gold.

    • “My friend is a solipsist and she’s surprised more people aren’t” – Bertrand Russell

  • People forget, Obama grew up under the rule of Suharto. Maybe he absorbed more from those formative years than people think.

  • OT: If you are not watching Parks & Rec the TV show…you should, if only because of the recurring Ron Swanson libertarian character.

  • Liberal Logic:
    Assertion: Europe has nationalized healthcare so they spend much less than we do and get better results.
    Now apply this logic to education:
    America has nationalized education, just like Europe, so we should be spending the same as they do and get the same results.
    Wait, we spend 145% of OECD average on education and get much worse results!
    Thus, the assumption that mimicking Europe in broad strokes will obtain equal outcomes is easily proven false.

    • I’m working on this for a pithy simple facebook gotcha question…editorial advice would be appreciated.

      • Something along the lines of a parody of a SAT question?  “A is to B as C is to __”

  • “Barack Obama did not invent managerial liberalism,” and while his agenda is painfully horrendous, it’s “a good deal less ambitious than was Woodrow Wilson’s or Richard Nixon’s.”

    No mention of FDR’s “Brain(dead) Trust” or JFK’s “Whiz Kids”?  Compared to FDR, Nixon was a rank amateur.

    Barack Obama is a Harvard Law graduate, and he knows that he cannot make recess appointments when Congress is not in recess. He knows that his HHS is promulgating regulations that conflict with federal statutes.

    This has been going on since the alphabet soup began in the 30′s. And remember: the Occupy movement has its roots in the Great Depression. Many of “our grandparents” wanted not jobs, but merely paychecks.
    Anyone want to guess how many of our “hard working Americans” have a clue about where their jobs came from?

  • The fundamental problem (and difference from conservatives) is that the Left is as nepotistic as hell.  They will promote their own kind without shame.  They are saving the world from evil conservatives, after all.  That nepotism creates a concentrated bias at leadership levels.

    Its why liberal narratives often portray the liberal way as ‘saving the world’ complete with cartoonish villains.  Like global warming is the perfect embodiment of liberal narratives.  The world will die if you don’t vote democrat and save us from those evil oil barons.   These are like little children’s stories of black and white heroes and villains from the people who like toe claim the world is shades of gray when it suits them.  So these people believe they are saving the world and anything they do, like a little nepotism, is acceptable or even necessary.

  • Still, in a comparative perspective, the US President has less ability to shape regulations and laws than in most other constitutional democracies.  In parliamentary systems the Prime Minister (or Chancellor whatever name is used) heads both the legislative and executive “branches” of government and thus has much more power.   In many countries laws passed come directly from the heads of the bureaucracy (cabinet ministers).  That isn’t an argument in favor of what Obama (or Nixon or others) have done, only to note that constitutional democracy does not require the legislative branch to be separate from the executive, or to approve all the executive does.   The real problem with US democracy (the electorate does choose the executive too, after all) is money.  Money buys lobbyists for Congress, and the insane “money is free speech” and “corporations are citizens” rulings allow big money to dominate the electoral process and thus shape public opinion and perceptions.   But factually, many constitutional democracies operate with far more power to the bureaucracy/government and no separation of powers between the executive and legislative “branches.”

    • You do realize that we have a constitutional republic not a constitutional democracy, yes? I thought you taught this stuff, Erb…

      • As I tell students taking political science, those who claim “we are not a democracy but a Republic” are wrong.  In political science terms, a democracy is not crude majoritarianism, but a system whereby the voices of the minority to participate and have their rights is protected.  There’s a huge field of democratic theory out there, and text books and studies compare “democracies” because that is what we are.   At least in terms of political science and political theory/philosophy.  You may have your own particular way to define terms.

        • In political science terms a true DEMOCRACY is exactly a system of majoritarianism.    and that is PRECISELY why the country was founded to be a REPUBLIC.
          For years we taught students we were NOT a democracy and made the distinction.
          Good lord, it’s in the Pledge of Allegiance.   “And to the REPUBLIC for which it stands”.   Not “to the DEMOCRACY for which it stands”.
          If they were the same form of government and there wasn’t a difference we’d not bother to have a different word for it.

          You hack.
          We’re adults here, you don’t get to redefine the meaning of words to suit your argument’s convenience, and we don’t have to accept your progressive reconstruction of the language.

          • Erb: Tell us ONE PLACE in the Constitution or Declaration of Independence that mentions the word “democracy”, you fraud.

          • No, looker, you are objectively wrong.  Democracy is not considered to be pure majoritarianism.  We are a democracy, in political science terms.  You may be an adult, but I’m a political scientist, and I am going with the definitions that are standard in my field – not your idiosyncratic definitions.  You don’t get to redefine the meaning of words to suit your particular bias.  Luckily, you don’t teach.

          • You’re a hack.
            Unfortunately you DO teach.

        • a system whereby the voices of the minority to participate and have their rights is protected.

          That’s a Republic, you dolt!

          • double plus good

          • When he says minority, he means minority groups.  He means, black, unemployed, gays, etc, as groups.  And the tools to right the wrongs of those groups is big government. 

            The minority in our republic are the individuals whose constitutional rights might be jepoardized by the will of majority.  Its meant to keep the government at bay.  Quite the opposite of Erb’s intent. 

          • And a democracy, you nincompoop.

        • I note your straw-man.  The US is a REPUBLICAN DEMOCRACY.  Gawd, is there really ANYTHING you won’t distort?
          But YOU “…may have your own particular way to define terms.”  Typical of a post-modern Collectivist tool.

          • He’s used to teaching people who have probably been taught progressive crap throughout their young lives and he’s just there to complete the poison progressive icing on their educational sheet shit cake.

        • “Section 4 The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”

          Do you know what document that comes from?  That’s right professor “Should be fired”, that’s directly from the CONSTITUTION of the United States of America    http://thisnation.com/library/constitution.html#ArticleIV
          But of course, YOU know best don’t you.   Perhaps you can discuss the theory the founders were a bunch of right wing tea party type yahoos who didn’t understand the nuances of the English language.

          Anyone with half an ounce of shame would shut up now, but I expect you’ll be back shortly to lecture us more on how naive, ignorant and ‘last century’ we are.

          • You’re silly. Yes, we’re a Republic.  We’re also a democracy.  Most democracies are republics, though the UK is an exception.  Thank God you don’t teach, you’re a very confused person.

          • “…those who claim “’we are not a democracy but a Republic’” are wrong.”
            Bu…bu…but….
            “You’re silly. Yes, we’re a Republic.”
            Than, for pure self-parody gold
            “Thank God you don’t teach, you’re a very confused person.”
            I would LOVE to have you on the witness stand, before a jury.  THAT would be a little piece of heaven.

          • So, when these founder guys wrote the document, they specifically didn’t insist that the States have DEMOCRACY, right?
            Perhaps because the word ‘Republic’ means something different than the word ‘Democracy’ when they’re all alone in a sentence.   Could be, right?  Mr. Teacher?
            To say something is a form of Democracy is NOT to say it is a Democracy.  Because most of us learned what ‘democracy’ is and is not, and were taught why being a Republic was different.
            And the people who make the distinction understand the significant difference and bother to clarify that difference by using the CORRECT term, much as they don’t use the word man, when they specifically mean female.  Which is why article 4 specifies that the State governments must be REPUBLICS and not simply DEMOCRATIC FORMS OF GOVERNMENT.

            But look, I’m dealing with you, a twerp who fundamentally disagrees with the idea of where Rights come from in the first place, which means he fundamentally disagrees with the thinking of the founding fathers, their principles and the documents that are the basis for our form of government in the first place.

            Let me point out that witch doctors who teach their students they must appease the volcano gods by tossing in a virgin now and again ARE teaching.  And THAT is the kind of teacher you are.

             

          • “As I tell students taking political science, those who claim “we are not a democracy but a Republic” are wrong.”

            Here is your brilliant statement ‘teacher’.   Perhaps those claiming ‘we are not a democracy, but a Republic’ understand the principles involved and wish to use THE CORRECT TERM for what we are.
            You pompous overstuffed asshat.   Let me know when I’m ‘cute’ would you?

          • … Those who can’t, teach.

        • Erb,

          I would reply to your nonsense, but it looks like everyone else beat me to it. It still amazes me that you can make directly contradictory statements within a single sentence. Did you go to school for that?

    • As usual, I barely skimmed the post, but I did notice the word “Obama”, so let me jump in and defend him. Which I don’t do reflexively no matter what he does and whether it’s legal or not, so shut up.

      Still, in a comparative perspective, the US President has less ability to shape regulations and laws than in most other constitutional democracies. Because we totally have a constitutional democracy and not a republic, because I really don’t have much use for that Ben Franklin fellow.

      Next, I need to pour out some boilerplate from the courses I teach to show you dense righties how much more I know about all this than you do. Because I’m absolutely certain you don’t know this stuff already. How could you? If you did, you would agree with me.

      In parliamentary systems the Prime Minister (or Chancellor whatever name is used) heads both the legislative and executive “branches” of government and thus has much more power. In many countries laws passed come directly from the heads of the bureaucracy (cabinet ministers). Which has zilch to do with what’s legal and proper here, but I need to sound wise and condescending, and this seemed to fit the bill.

      That isn’t an argument in favor of what Obama (or Nixon or others) have done, only to note that constitutional democracy does not require the legislative branch to be separate from the executive, or to approve all the executive does. Even though our constitution does require it. So I don’t know why I made the point, really, except that I just looooves me some European democracy and don’t give two slits about what’s legal or constitutional if it gets in the way of wise leftists running society for everyone’s own good.

      So let me shift the blame away from wise leftists and pick out a scapegoat. The real problem with US democracy (the electorate does choose the executive too, after all) is money. Money buys lobbyists for Congress, and the insane “money is free speech” and “corporations are citizens” rulings allow big money to dominate the electoral process and thus shape public opinion and perceptions.

      You see, don’t you? Wise leftists just can’t get everything they want because some people with money have the nerve to publicly oppose them, and that’s insane. Insane, I say. How can we possibly achieve leftist utopia with such vicious opposition?

      And shut up about how that means I’m such an extremist that I don’t even believe in free speech. I totally believe in free speech for the leftist media, which just happens to be made of a bunch of special corporations that deserve to say anything they want and spend any amount of money doing it. And, for everyone else, I believe in the freedom to stand somewhere that no one of consequence is listening and say anything they want. See, that’s fair, isn’t it?

      But factually, many constitutional democracies operate with far more power to the bureaucracy/government and no separation of powers between the executive and legislative “branches.” And shut up about how that doesn’t apply to us. It should.

    • Real question in their summary paragraph though.  Who’s going to stop it.
      Not the squishes in the House unless Boehner got a back bone transplant.

  • Not a single person showed up at the Georgetown waterfront Tuesday for a climate change agenda event put on by Organizing for Action, the shadowy nonprofit advocacy group born out of President Obama’s 2012 campaign, the NRCC wrote in its blog.

    It’s almost as if OFA just isn’t trying.
    Maybe that is the plan.

    501(c)4′s are allowed to intervene in political campaigns as long as their “primary” activity is still the promotion of the general welfare. These empty rallies are part of the 51% promotion of the general welfare … a evil necessitated by the law.

  • Rags, I’d destroy you in a one on one debate focused on facts.  Get me on the “witness stand” and I’d make you look like a blithering fool ;-)  I don’t have much respect for your capacity to really debate, you sink into name calling too quickly (and insults/name calling usually indicates lack of an argument)
    Again, we are both a Republic and we are a Democracy.  Anyone who claims we are not a democracy is objectively wrong.  That doesn’t stop ignorant types from thinking they are really smart and bleating out “we are not a democracy, but a Republic.”  Roll your eyes at those fools!

    • You are objectively wrong.  The English language itself is proof, two different words for Democracy and Republic, wherein a Republic is a specific form of Democratic government, but NOT a Democracy.
      The Constitution is proof, specifically citing the word Republic, rather then the word Democracy.

      Words MEAN things, as I said earlier, you don’t get to redefine them for your convenience.

      As to your other conjectures, I’d love to see you on the stand, it would be comedy gold.  If there’s a blithering fool in this conversation, it’s you.
      Your understanding of ‘being on the stand’ is the first demonstration of that.  You don’t DEBATE counsel as a witness, you answer questions.
      And since you’re so prone to grandiose departures into your wisdom stemming from authority and your worthless degree, I’m confident you’d be tied in contradictory hypocritical knots within 5 minutes.
       

    • Rags, I’d destroy you in a one on one debate focused on facts. Stop laughing! I would, too! Why, I win every debate with my students, and of course both the other political science professors here agree with me on practically everything, so we don’t have debates.

      Don’t you get it? Get me on the “witness stand” and I’d make you look like a blithering fool. I’m so, so much smarter than you, and besides I know how to use emoticons like all the cool kids.

      And don’t start about how you have years of experience because of your law practice and I’m just a professor at a school no one’s ever heard of out in the middle of a moose-infested forest, with only three people in my department. That doesn’t either mean I’m a mediocre thinker who was turned down by every respectable school I applied to. Stop saying that.

      Or that I was pushed out of DC in the 1980s because I couldn’t hack it there. Stop saying that, too! I worked for a senator, and I didn’t either just fetch coffee! I wrote memos and stuff, and other people did too read them. Really.

      Trust me, I’m a champion debater. Just try me. Just now, I did a practice session with the neighbor’s cat, and I totally destroyed you. Though the cat stubbornly refused to acknowledge my victory. Probably as you would too. Stop laughing, I said!

      I don’t have much respect for your capacity to really debate, you sink into name calling too quickly (and insults/name calling usually indicates lack of an argument). Which doesn’t apply when I called the people around here sterile and inbred over their global warming climate change arguments. I was totally right then, because I have godlike powers of political science.

      So bring it on, anytime, any place. Of course, you’ll have to pay my travel expenses because I could not afford it on my modest professor’s salary, which doesn’t either show that I’m no good at anything that earns real money. I’m living a magical life here in Mooseville, and it would be a real sacrifice to come and debate you, but I’d totally do it. Not bluffing, here. Really. With my godlike powers of political science, my inerring total command of the facts, I’d destroy you. Damn it, stop laughing!

      Not to mention my quantum spiritual ability to form the right thoughts in my mind and direct the future to my desired outcome. Yes, that’s right, I’m threatening you with quantum entanglement, which is the ultimate trump card. You would have no chance. Stop laughing I said! You sound like one of those howler monkeys!

      Again, we are both a Republic and we are a Democracy. I have a political science book here that says that. Right next to the place where it says we post-modern academics can redefine anything we want. All we have to do is call our definition the standard one, and the rest of the world has to go along with it. Because we have doctorates from places with “advanced” in the name, and you don’t. So there.

      Anyone who claims we are not a democracy is objectively wrong. Objectively, I say! Put that dictionary away! You’re objectively wrong! I decree it, in the name of quantum spirituality!

      Now stop claiming otherwise, because I come and debate you and show you what’s what. Heck, the magenta caterpillars with Sarah Palin’s face and ample bosom are lined up over there against the wall cheering me on. I’m ready.

      • . . . “Is it live, or is it Memorex?”

      • Awww shoot, I forgot he could think futures at me and I’d be screwed, and quantum entangled like a fly in a web.  Maybe he could even think a future at me where I’m like the Vincent Price version of “The Fly”, and I’m all stuck in the web with my face on a the body of a fly shouting “help me! help me!” as a spider closed in to discuss democracy with me (lol eyes rolling :) ).  We’d vote on what was for lunch, with each of us controlling the same number of votes as the number of legs we had.

    • insults/name calling usually indicates lack of an argument

      Sometimes.  In your case, it just indicates the contempt I have for you.  You are a demonstrated liar, and I really do hate liars.
      Why would I argue with you?  Talk about a vacuous exercise.

    • This is your brain on drugs.

    • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!  Oh Erb, the only way you’d destroy anyone with facts is if you made them all up. Oh wait, you already do.

    • Scott, I have houseplants that could destroy you in a fact-based debate.  Rags (along with about half the commentariat here) annihilates you on regular basis.

  • I know this comment comes a bit late.  So I’m preaching to the crickets, but basically this is why we can’t have term limits.  New politicians will crutch on the bureaucrats inherently.  After they get to know the system, they are probably less likely to be bs’d.  But with term limits, at least 50% of the elected will always be new.  And the most seniority will be two terms, so any tribal knowledge of the bureaucrats and how to bypass them will slip away.  When someone mentions term limits I cringe and imagine handing the keys right over to the bureaucrats completely.

    • I challenge that assumption.

      While the effect you mention will indeed be a factor, it’s also the case that today’s bureaucrats and politicians develop a very cozy, symbiotic relationship. Politicians who have been around a while don’t like challenging the bureaucracy.

      Note for example that it’s not the GOP leadership going after the IRS in congressional hearings. Boehner, Cantor, etc. don’t seem to like talking about it. It’s newer people like Issa. He’s had just enough time to become a committee chair.

      I think turning over the seats with term limits would result in more people willing to challenge the bureaucrats, not fewer. I don’t much care if they don’t know how to “work” the bureaucracy because of their inexperience. I want people in Congress prepared to fight the bureaucracy tooth and nail, and prune it aggressively. Again, based on our current Congress, long time representatives simply do not have any taste for pruning bureaucracy.

    • Nonsense.  We agree that COULD be a problem, but people solve problems.  Government is not rocket surgery.  An office-holder does not need to rely on staff people.  Expert systems could put the same “inside” information at their finger-tips, and, once relieved of the need to fund-raise much of their time, they would have time for education.
      Our government was never intended to require a professional politician.  Exactly the opposite.