The musings of a useful idiot (Thomas Sowell): Is the US Now on the Slippery Slope to Tyranny?
I try to not be overly partisan here in the blogosphere or even in life. I like to keep my objectivity as when one is engaged in partisan battles it becomes very difficult to do that mainly because you’re constantly on the offensive or defensive. That tends to create a bunker mentality and you can’t see the entire battlefield to observe what all the players are doing if you’re holed up in the bunker.
Clearly, everyone doesn’t operate that way. As a matter of fact, there are some who want to create and draw the partisan battle lines to keep the war up front and center in everyone’s hearts and minds. This largely is the objective of the republican party and has been over the last 20 years, but acutely so beginning with George W. Bush. Everything must be reduced down to a culture war in the most base terms possible. The idea is to create the emotions of panic and anger so the pot is constantly stirred. I don’t know what sort of concoction they have in the pot, but it’s certain to be a bitter destructive brew.
They all have talking points, but they’re not the sort of points that would foster a reasoned rational discussion. No, these are the sorts of talking points that poison the entire atmosphere while fostering irrational behaviors.
A few months ago, Obama went to speak before the congressional republicans at their retreat shortly after Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts. During the speech, he suggested that their characterization of him as a “socialist” left them very little room to work with him as once their constituents were riled up over him supposedly being a “socialist” , the fear of a backlash from the very same constituents would prevent them from working with him. It’s apparent to me that this is something that republican party knew and their plan was to never work with Obama but to subvert everything he did. This even after Obama tried to bend over backwards early on to build a bi-partisan coalition.
Now we have a useful idiot, Thomas Sowell, weighing in on the BP disaster co-signing with republican congressman Joe Barton. Barton apologized to BP for Obama’s “thuggery” in securing a $ 20 billion reserve for the gulf victims. Sowell now is accusing Obama of being Nazi-like for the same reason.
There are statements that people make that one can disagree with, but you might be still willing to listen to other party as their dissent was at least intelligent. I believe that intelligent dissent presents a learning opportunity. On the other had, there are statements that are so egregiously stupid, that you’re inclined to never listen to what the offending party has to say about anything else. Sowell’s piece falls into the latter category.
This country has some serious problems, many of which don’t emanate from the left right paradigm per se but from the overall breakdown of government and morals of the people– the same sort of rot that set in to bring down Rome. The solution to our problems lies outside of the liberal/conservative/right/left box. People like Sowell like to keep the level of debate within that box as a distraction. That’s the case generally with the republican party. Their objective is to have everyone in his bunker and remain distracted from the real issues of the day.
Previously, I asserted that the BP deal was needed by both Obama and BP as both were being assailed and both needed to rehabilitate their images. The reserve of $ 20 billion and not capping their financial commitment was wise as this company may seek protection in the bankruptcy courts if this disaster winds up being as widespread as some think. There’s nothing Nazi-like about that and there’s certainly nothing that violates the constitution in that. The bottom line is no matter what Obama does on this (or anything else), the republican party is determined to oppose and undermine it. There a few solutions generated when accusations of Nazism and socialism rend the air, but again that’s not the objective of those who are making those calls.
Is the US Now on the Slippery Slope to Tyranny?
When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.
Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler’s rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.
“Useful idiots” was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.
Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.
In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.
The president’s poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.
Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.
And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP’s oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated.
But our government is supposed to be “a government of laws and not of men.”
If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion — or $50 billion or $100 billion — then so be it.
But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without “due process of law.”
Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.
With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.
If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don’t believe in constitutional government.
And, without constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a “crisis” — which, as the president’s chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to “go to waste” as an opportunity to expand the government’s power.
That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country’s wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard’s restrictions on the printing of money.
At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law “for the relief of the German people.”
That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.
If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.
The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP’s money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed “czars” controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.
Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power — vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom — are the “useful idiots” of our time. But useful to whom?