Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

06/19/2010 (8:58 pm)

Oh, Yes, It's a Shakedown Alright

The Hot Air boys introduced me to The Optimistic Conservative by cross-posting this piece of hers yesterday (thanks, boys.) TOC speaks the truth that corrupt and frightened politicians on both sides of the aisle are clearly unwilling to say: no matter what we think of British Petroleum and their role in the unfolding eco-disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration shook down BP to obtain a $20 billion slush fund, and it’s both immoral and illegal.

Joe Barton (R-TX) is right: the $20 billion escrow fund is a shakedown. Not because BP isn’t liable for the oil spill, and not because BP shouldn’t help the people losing their livelihoods on the Gulf Coast. But because Obama extorting the escrow fund from BP is an exercise of executive power outside the rule of law.

Following the rule of law would produce relief for the oil spill’s victims. It just wouldn’t put Obama’s appointee in sole charge of a $20 billion fund. That has a meaning beyond the “Chicago” implication of pure extortion, fund-skimming, and payola. It means Obama couldn’t use the money to cushion the near-term consequences of his own policies. He’d be constrained by that pesky rule of law, if he weren’t holding the discretionary purse strings for the damages payouts…

This is worth noting: within the span of my lifetime, America has become so accustomed to the largely unsupervised overreach of federal agencies that our ability to detect a shakedown in progress has been severely compromised. We have the confused idea that somebody should somehow be doing something to help all these people, and don’t we have an agency for that? – so why shouldn’t the president, the man in charge of the agencies, step in and take matters into his own hands?

This is, however, confused sentiment. It’s pure sentiment, with no temper from wisdom or judgment. It’s not a sound basis for government, no matter how we feel and no matter what the problem is. Governments good and bad operate on precedent, whether you like it or not, and one shakedown tolerated will lead as night the day to more shakedowns. Eventually one of them will get to your doorstep. No one is so perfectly positioned in his universal immune-victim status as to never face being sliced through the mid-torso region by the Super-Whammadine Shakedown-o-matic.

This is SEIU/UAW tactics writ large – and those tactics thrive on the government-by-agency paradigm.

It’s worth your time to read the whole thing. The fact that Rep. Barton was forced by shame to back down from his candor demonstrates why ordinary political activism is not going to work this time. We have a Thug President. He is not constrained by the rule of law. The very point of his bending the system this way is to place his thumb firmly on the electoral scales so that electoral politics will not remove him and cannot undo what he’s doing. The solution must lie outside of ordinary electoral politics, and must be approached now; if we wait until we see the result of his scale-cheating maneuvers, our objections will be dismissed as sour grapes for having lost an election, the way we dismissed Al Gore’s sour grapes in 2000 (never mind that our complaint would be orders of magnitude more legitimate.)

It’s already starting, in fact. Let your outrage settle just a few weeks and it goes away. The outrageous becomes backdrop. We forget what got us so agitated in the first place. We’ve watched how it went with AIG and Citibank, with GM and Chrysler, with Fannie and Freddie. We’ve become accustomed to abuses of law and process, and think this is just part of politics as usual. It is not. The republic is dying. We used to see it clearly; now it is less so. If we do not rise up and stop the Thug President from engaging in his thuggery, it will become the norm, the US will become like any penny-ante Central American dictatorship, and it will be our fault.

UPDATE 6/20 @5:33 PM: One of the RedState regulars has posted what Rep. Joe Barton (R, TX) actually said in his “apology” to BP. After reviewing it, I’m ashamed that anybody in the Republican party raised a single word of objection. He was absolutely clear in objecting to the lawless behavior of the White House, and completely correct. Unsurprisingly, the reaction by that ugly Nazi Henry Waxman and the rest of the Democratic party has been nothing but vicious demagoguery. I agree with every word of Barton’s statement… the first one, not the later one when he had been shamed into backing down. I want to identify all the Republicans who objected to his words and mark them for defeat, because nobody who countenances the plainly illegal thuggery of the Obama administration has any business holding office in this nation.

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August 11, 2010 @ 10:47 am #

Welcome back!!

August 11, 2010 @ 2:42 pm #


September 3, 2010 @ 6:46 pm #


September 15, 2010 @ 10:12 pm #

Nothing to say for months on end? That’s depressing.

Joe H.

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