Sunday, January 8, 2023

Hoover, Defender of the Deep State

 https://newcriterion.com/issues/2023/1/federal-foes

The linked review is from the American Spectator, a magazine I subscribe to for reviews like this and to stretch my brain in the weak areas of poetry and the "liberal arts" in the old sense of "liberal". 

The author of the book is Beverly Gage, a Yale professor, so someone even the left might not totally disregard, although my guess is this book will be as suppressed as possible.

Her book G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century, a biography of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, was named a best book of 2022 by the Washington Post (Ten Best Books), The Atlantic (Ten Best Books), Publishers Weekly (Ten Best Books), The New Yorker (24 Essential Reads), The New York Times (100 Notable Books), Smithsonian (Ten Best History Books), and Barnes & Noble (Ten Best History Books).

When the FBI was investigating organized crime and communist agents and sympathisers in the US, it received total support from conservatives (and not from the left). Today? Not so much. 

The FBI has suffered popular disapproval before in its 114-year history, yet never has the Bureau been so distrusted by the Right as it is today. It is playing a central role in the attempt to criminalize Donald Trump and his supporters, with heavy-handed tactics deployed against the January 6 “insurrectionists” and a raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home reminiscent of what occurs in a banana republic.In addition, its aggressive targeting of “right-wing extremists,” including pro-life activists, indicates a surprising willingness by the Bureau to become identified as a partisan police force for the Democratic Party.

Few people realize that Mark Felt, Hoover's 3rd in command at the FBI was "Deep Throat", who brought down Nixon, mostly because he was passed over for a promotion to director of the FBI in favor of Patrick Gray. Mark Felt was no moral paragon, in 1980 he was convicted of civil rights violations, but pardoned by Ronald Reagan.
Gage explored the dramatic two years that followed Hoover’s death in a scholarly essay published in 2012, “Deep Throat, Watergate, and the Bureaucratic Politics of the FBI,” in which she notes that the conditions for the Watergate crisis had already been established by Hoover before his death. Though Hoover and Nixon were close personal friends, “Hoover believed in the administrative state—in the power of independent bureaucrats. . . . Nixon, by contrast, was a man of parties, someone who hated the bureaucracy and believed that . . . voter control offered the best hope for effective government.” From this perspective, Watergate emerges as “an institutional struggle between political allies, contained within the executive branch and locked in conflict over the proper use of the state." 

LBJ used the FBI to investigate political opponents, the Kennedys and MLK, but he was totally on the side of the Administrative State -- they had no quarrel with him, but they hated Richard Nixon, because, (like Trump), he was a threat to the Administrative/Deep State. 

Nixon recorded in his diary after the 1972 election: 

This is . . . probably the last time, that we can get government under control before it gets so big that it submerges the individual completely and destroys the dynamism which makes the American system what it is.

Nixon saw that America was falling into the tyranny of the Administrative State, and he was attacked because the Administrative State, especially the FBI, saw him as an existential threat to their power. Same for Trump.  

The fact that we are no longer a democracy, but rather an oligarchy governed by the Democrats and Administrative State, is beneath the radar of a huge majority of Americans, however many of them sense that "something is wrong" even with the constant propaganda barrage they live under. 

To guarantee both its authority and funding, the bureaucracy operates with the support of, and in consultation with, the senior leadership in Congress—which has in key respects ceased to be a partisan institution. Leaders of both parties are deeply attached to their power to supervise the administrative state. Of course, it is the Democrats who have long been the party of big government, and they are truly in charge over the long term. Nominal Republicans in Congress send out spirited fundraising letters invoking the Constitution, but in practice the gop leadership remains firmly within the bounds of establishment opinion. (May we wonder, based on the evidence, whether Senator Mitch McConnell even wanted a Republican majority in November? Might he be entirely content, and even find it preferable, to remain in the minority—retaining his perks without the burden of accountability?)

We can say the same thing of Kevin McCarthy, a true denizen of "The Swamp". The fact that 20 Republicans stood up as a "Rebel Alliance" gives a ray for hope, but the odds against any real change are LONG. Steve Hayward gives an excellent summary of the good/bad of the Rebel Alliance here.

The Administrative State is one of my long term Hobby Horses ... very recently here

The Empire of the Administrative State is strong. Like the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars, the odds are against freedom.


Monday, January 2, 2023

Is Administrative Law Unlawful, Philip Hamburger

I have to love the name. Hamburger is very American! 

The Hamburger in this case is no joke at all. A Juris Doctor (highest degree in law) from Yale, now a law professor at Columbia and noted author of a number of books, articles, and recipient of prestigious awards. You likely have never heard of him because what he writes about clearly and unambiguously makes a nearly irrefutable case that we are subjects, not citizens, with our rulers having absolute power. 

How is that possible? Because the approved media and educational system narrative is that it is not possible for a "modern technological society" to be governed by citizens of a republic. Our betters find the very idea of separation of powers with a judicial system that enforces the separation through application of a written constitution to be "impossible". (the book lets you know it is fairly easily possible, just not desirable for our rulers), 

I seem to be on a tear of reading deep and difficult works for some reason lately. This one is no exception, although well written. Five hundred page, fairly small print, and over 100 pages of notes is not to be trifled with. If we are to return to being a Constitutional Republic, something over a majority need to understand some of these truths that are not so "self evident", but critical to any that want to return to being citizens rather than subjects. 

A shorter (and likely better) review of the book that I quote from in this post is here.

In the 1500s (and before), the application of absolute power was supposedly required because of "emergency" (like a "crisis" ... Covid, Climate Change, gun violence, etc, etc). 

Those who remain skeptical might consider one of Hamburger’s examples. He discusses the 1539 Act of Proclamations enacted by a cowed Parliament at Henry VIII’s insistence. The Act authorized the king to “set forth…proclamations, under such penalties and pains” as might be thought “necessary and requisite” by the king and his council. These proclamations “shall be obeyed, observed, and kept as though they were made by act of Parliament.”

If you have to go around Parliament and Congress from time to time, perhaps the "time" should be perpetually NOW.  One of our current ruling class has a definite handle on the importance of the passage of time. We should all be thankful that we are subjects to the brilliance of our betters through Administrative Law ... they have it together! 


The thesis of the book is simple: 

His thesis, in a nutshell, comes to this: the Constitution contemplates only two kinds of edicts that may bind citizens—rules enacted by Congress, and orders issued by duly authorized courts. Administrative edicts, by contrast, seek to bind citizens by commands that are neither legislatively enacted nor judicially decreed. They are, strictly speaking, lawless.

 Perhaps (though I'm pessimistic) people will start to realize that we have been brainwashed by our "educational system" (indoctrination system), our media industrial complex (propaganda), and of course our entire Administrative/Deep State. The Deep State has now been politically weaponized to defend our rulers in the Democrat Deep State.

The linked review is more optimistic than I am. We both see the ACA as an example of the tragedy of the Administrative State, however since the linked review is from 2014, it appears my pessimism is more accurate than their admittedly tepid optimism. 

The persistent, widespread, and increasing unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act may be an indicator of public exhaustion with the new regulatory paradigm. Despite early enthusiasm for health care “reform,” it gradually began to dawn on the public that a government plan to coordinate health care services all the way down, so to speak, is going to have a lot to say about when, where, how, and by whom you are treated, and for how long. And the government is not always going to say please and thank you as it steers citizens into mandated health care chutes. Despite repeated promises by politicians from the president on down, it turns out that large numbers of people will not be able to keep their previous health plan or doctors. And their new insurance policies in all probability will cost them more—considerably more.
I take a shot at making this simpler and more personal in this recent post. 

As the book repeats multiple times, our courts including the SCOTUS have decided it is almighty precedent that requires deference to the Administrative State, and Obama Care is a nasty example. 

A quote from the book by way of the review summarizes what has happened rather nicely. 

The history of government is largely a story of elite power and popular subservience. Americans, however, turned this old model upside down. By establishing a republican form of government, they eventually made themselves masters and made their lawmakers their servants. More than two centuries later, the shell of this republican experiment remains. Within it, however, another government has arisen, in which new masters once again assert themselves, issuing commands as if they were members of a ruling class, and as if the people were merely their servants. Self-government thus has given way to a system of submission.
Optimists honestly thought that the Covid authoritarian lockdowns, lies, destruction of our economy and educational system would wake up the population and draw them away from Netflix, social media, and general mindless entertainment to throw the bums out.  To the extent 2022 was an "election" it shows that was either a false hope, or that a serf thinking that an "election" run by the ruling class is going to free them from their servility is deluded. 

You probably started reading this thinking you were a citizen, welcome to being a subject!