The Rule of Law vs. The Rule of Rule

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The issues being discussed in the Presidential campaign now ramping up on the Republican side (Barack Obama got an early start by funneling tax dollars to community organizing groups 2 1/2 years ago  as part of his campaign ‘stimulus package’) are many and worthy of discussion.  We have of course the dour economy, marked by joblessness and anemic growth, insolvency and public and private debt.   We have the intolerable abomination known as Obamacare. We have the continued border problems with Mexico.  We have the retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan, even as Iran is looming as the next big threat.  All these and more have been met head-on by the Republican challengers.

Oblique references have been made to trimming back some of the federal departments and agencies (sigh!- in a perfect world!) and snippets of at least pretend outrage have emitted from the debate stages about certain activities of infamous departments like Justice and agencies like EPA, and of course the White House and Department of Energy’s bribery and shakedown scandal known as Solyndra.   Yet no serious dialogue has occured about one of the most serious encroachments of Progressivism on the viability of our Republic, and that is the abdication of the Congressional responsibility to oversee the Departments and agencies created by Congress to insure they faithfully execute the laws that Congress has passed, and the subsequent assumption of more and more power by every Department or Agency of any importance at all.  Of course, these candidates are running for President and not for Congress, but they really ought to give a fig.

Two examples of abuse of authority should serve to illustrate the point.  There has been in the works a project to bring much-needed, close-to-home supplies of petroleum from our friendly neighbor north of the border to and through the US via a pipeline.  Much advance work has been done and enthusiasm and anticipation expressed far and wide for both the energy being brought in and the jobs to be created.  But now the project has been put on hold.  By whom?  By the US State Department.  Not by the Environmental Protection Agency. Not by the Department of the Interior.  The US State Department.  Does that make any sense?  Are there thorny international relations issues that have to be ironed out?  Intense diplomatic negotiations?  No, the Canadians want the project to go through and the American people want the project to go through. The House passed legislation directing immediate action by the President.  So why is the State Department sticking its nose in it?

The other issue is the ongoing campaign by the Justice Department to ride roughshod over the rights and liberties of American citizens and Sovereign States, and to escape scrutiny of its efforts by playing footsy  with the Freedom Of Information Act.  Remember that word – “ACT.”  A summary of the shenanigans is here.  But the important part of the Daily Caller article is this:

The DOJ has relied on a 1987 memo from then-Attorney General Edwin Meese that  gave federal law enforcement agencies standing authority to deny the existence  of records, but this would be the first time it was formally codified.

Yes, the titillating part of that sentence is that a former Republican and very conservative Attorney General’s memo on a subject would be used by the current left-wing Attorney General to justify their proposed action, even as he is being hounded for documents and information on several touchy subjects. But the key word is “codified’. The action DOJ was going to take was to institute a ‘rule” permitting the denial of the existence of records. A hue and cry went up from various and sundry groups and individuals, both left and right-leaners, over an  arrogant initiative by DOJ, and DOJ backed off. And a great sigh of relief went up on the Republican side of the aisle when DOJ backed down. Why? Because the Congressional branch has seen fit to allow Executive Departments to “codify” things not include or intended by the governing legislation.  And they wouldn’t have known what to do if DOJ had persisted.  Ask for records?  The Freedom of Information Act is an “act’, which is to say a “law”.  Forget the Executive for the moment, the Congress has a great deal of difficulty with the concept of law.

Executive agencies of course must be given latitude to establish procedures for carrying out the will of the people as expressed by Congress. But there is a huge difference between that procedural, operational leeway and taking it upon themselves to  assert at will or on a whim that operations are so sensitive that they can lie in responding to legitimate inquiries for information absent court hearing or oversight review.

So what are we saying here?  We could be here for days reviewing how this ain’t your fathers republic anymore. It’s what Congress is saying that is the lesson. Congress is saying “Darn! State put a hold on the pipeline project and there’s just nothing to do about it but wait til 2013 and maybe we’ll have a new President and Secretary of State and the people can have less expensive gasoline and maybe even a few jobs.” And on the FOIA matter, Congress says “Whew! Boy we dodged a bullet on that one didn’t we? Hee hee! Holder backed down!. He’s not so tough! He may still stonewall and delay, but he didn’t put in The Rule! Hee hee! Another year-and-a-half and he’ll be gone and we can try to go back and reconstruct what went wrong, or…..maybe just …..move on.”

That is the crux of the problem, dear readers. A whole bunch of people  don’t know what they’re doing, don’t know what they should be doing, don’t know how to do anything and apparently are just grateful to have $170,00 salaries, office space, franking privileges and taxpayer-funded staffs of flunkies sending out incessant and continual re-election campaign messages. Oh, that’s right! Our Republican Congressmen did push the ‘no’ button twice; once on Obamacare and once on the stimulus package. Then they let the  Czars and the Cabinet Secretaries take over.  Czars?  Oh, yeah.  That’s a new wrinkle, but, it’s all good!

What this country needs is a good five-cent representative form of government.

 

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mriggio
November 14, 2011 8:51 am

The State Dept review delay is just Zero tossing a bone to the greenies, but I’ll be darned if I get how an oil pipeline jeopardizes anybody’s drinking water. If the Canadian oil will lower the price I pay for gas, they can run the damn pipeline through my backyard for all I care. A windmill however, would be an entirely different story…