Friday, August 19, 2005


"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes... "

Most of the noise in the mainstream media about John Roberts, nominee for the USSC, is over culture wars issues. Quoting a memo from 20 years ago in which a guy sounds like a character from A Handmaid's Tale is, though, not gripping political drama. Well below the fold, one runs across this in the WaPo, "Roberts, in a February 1983 memo, agreed that the proposals [barring advocacy by groups receiving federal money] were too broad, but worried more about the hit that government contractors would take. "It is possible to 'defund the left' without alienating [defense contractors] TRW and Boeing, but the proposals, if enacted, would do both," Roberts opined. So, now we encounter one of the architects of the "defund the left" movement. Now, let's make it clear what this is not about. * It is not about the feds giving money so that they can be lobbied. That's certainly wrong, whether done by Boeing or by ACORN and was probably illegal under law extant in 1983. * It is not about traditional patronage or "spoils." Denounce the Republicans, if you like, for hypocrisy in rolling out the porkbarrel after having gained power by promising to end it, but be awarer that "who gits" is what politics is about. * It is not about causes I like vs. causes I don't like. But suppose that the maker of a military jet is chosen not because the company is offering low cost or high quality, but because of ideology. If so, lives and the national security are put at risk. Taxpayer dollars are squandered on shoddy hardware... and for what? Solely to entrench the ruling party. The same principle applies, less dramatically but no less accurately, if money is given to an incompetent but ideologically-correct charity that feeds the poor. Traditional pork is self-limiting, because if you don't give some highway projects to certain districts, you alienate your supporters in those districts. The traditional Democratic "tax and spend" politics, programs like Social Security and Medicare, benefited everyone, supporters and opponents alike. But what Roberts is talking about in this scheme to "defund the left" is not pork or "tax and spend" politics. It is a classic abuse of power, in which ideology is the sole criterion to decide how federal dollars. Such people say in effect "To h--- with the lives of soldiers or the poor, to h--- with the taxpayers, to h--- with the national good, and to h--- with the safety of the nation. All that matters is hanging on to power". This is the stuff of tyranny. Now we know that the foundations to create this little annex to the house of tyranny were laid no later than 1983, that the Reagan Administration was mixing the concrete, and that the current nominee for the Supreme Court was pouring it. Why wasn't this the lede?
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