A Problem with Political Authority

As a libertarian with deep anarchist leanings, I have plenty of problems with political authority myself. Nevertheless, I find the society in which I live to be libertarian enough, and that any deviation from the rules and procedures in place can be considered to be a threat to my freedom. With this being said, the Wall Street Journal has a great editorial out on the Obama administration’s increasingly authoritarian and cavalier approach to the political process. What I like best about this editorial is that it focuses on one of the Obama administration’s less well-known attempts at consolidating power: that of granting regulators powers that they don’t actually have. Observe:

In re: Aiken County is another episode in the political soap opera about spent-fuel storage at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, an Energy Department project that requires the approval of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission […] Yucca has since been infamously stop-and-go amid opposition from the green lobby and not-in-my-backyard Nevadans and Californians. This particular application was submitted to the NRC in June 2008.

Mr. Obama promised to kill Yucca as a candidate and the Energy Department tried to yank the license application after his election. But an NRC safety board made up of administrative judges ruled unanimously that this was illegal unless Congress passed a law authorizing it. Mr. Obama then teamed up with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to stack the NRC with anti-Yucca appointees.

Although Congress appropriated money to conduct the review, the NRC flat-out refused, in violation of the three-year statutory deadline.

The explanation continues:

A federal court is stating, overtly, that federal regulators are behaving as if they are a law unto themselves. Judge A. Raymond Randolph notes in a concurrence that former NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who has since resigned, “orchestrated a systematic campaign of noncompliance.” If Mr. Jaczko worked on Wall Street he’d be indicted.

Judge Kavanaugh then offers some remedial legal education in “basic constitutional principles” for the President who used to be a constitutional law professor. Under Article II and Supreme Court precedents, the President must enforce mandates when Congress appropriates money, as well as abide by prohibitions. If he objects on constitutional grounds, he may decline to enforce a statute until the case is adjudicated in the courts. “But the President may not decline to follow a statutory mandate or prohibition simply because of policy objections,” writes the court.

That is especially notable given that ObamaCare’s employer-insurance requirement and other provisions are precisely such unambiguous statutory mandates, with hard start dates […] All of this highlights that Mr. Obama is not merely redefining this or that statute as he goes but also the architecture of the U.S. political system.

Indeed. Dr Delacroix has suspected the Obama administration of authoritarianism from the beginning, and it looks as if time has proved him right (which is a good thing for him, given his penchant for missing the mark in foreign affairs). Stay tuned. This blog is just warming up.

3 thoughts on “A Problem with Political Authority

  1. The short phrase is, of course, “A government of laws, not men”. And that is the problem, even if I agreed with him (I don’t) maybe I wouldn’t the next one. But the law is the law

    It comes back to the old title, He is the “Chief Executive”, his job is to execute, not argue like a petulant child.

  2. I agree with NEO, and if we are a nation of laws born out of a belief that man should be as free as possible and part of that freedom is to act justly and with responsibility toward one another derived from an understanding that behavioral aberrations occur that require protections in the form of laws and a sanctioned, justified use of force. The authorization to use force, either on individuals, groups or entire nations was never intended to be applied arbitrarily or capriciously by ideologues.

    However, ideologues do get elected and as we’ve seen, when elected in sufficient numbers in both the Executive and Senate, the people’s representatives in the U.S. House of Representative are hamstrung in their ability to challenge the usurpation of power by the executive, particularly in appointments where approval or confirmation depends only on the Senate vote.

    Many of the tactics being used by Democrats and President Obama, today, derive from past tactics approved by Republican majorities and Republican Presidents who sought to avoid the difficult role of governing properly by seeking work around exceptions to the Constitution by reassigning or allowing the usurpation of powers between branches or though Constitutional amendments on requirements that stood as roadblocks.

    So, neither party is better or more moral than the other in this regard.

    Both are practitioners of immoral pragmatism, whereby, not only are compromises made on the basis on rational debate, but also include the dismissal of long held principles involving individual rights and the obligation to defend those rights by supporting and defending the U.S. Constitution [as opposed to working to modify away perceived “obstructions” to transitional goals or needs or of a desire for political or ideological expediency].

    Instead of working on a foundation of universally accepted and historically proven beliefs that have separated early America on a philosophical plane from the rest of the world at the time, we in modern America have been whittling away at those beliefs and foundational principles in an attempt to be more pragmatic, to be more altruistic [buying influence] to the detriment of the future of individual rights and power.

    It is not our Constitution that needs to be improved or corrected, it is those whom we’ve trusted to safeguard it and to work to uphold its core values that need reassessment. Going forward, this should be first and foremost in the minds of people who love freedom everywhere.

    People in Washington, D.C. are talking about revising the tax code these days. That discussion should also include whether or not the 16th Amendment’s doing ways with apportionment has really served the interests of the United States well. That discussion should include a thorough review of all laws regarding taxation, including the emergency funding mechanisms for wars and natural disasters with the goal of moving the tax system more in line with the document’s original intent while serving the needs of a modern society.

  3. […] Read the whole thing. Upon second thought, I probably should have titled this post “politics without romance” and just omitted the “American” part of it. In fact, you can pretty much use –Rick’s comment to explain every social conflict imaginable if you just make sure that the words ‘Democrat’ and ‘Republican’ are replaceable by any faction and the word ‘Constitution’ is interchangeable with the word ‘power.’ […]

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