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The New Authoritarianism « Back to Story
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My view of 2013 to a "T".
You will find very few adherents to this opine, as the US Electorate continues to emulate the ostrich Head in Sand attitude.
Thank you for your work. I am here on the ground in Chicago and have had a sinking feeling for the last decade or so we slowly being cooked like frogs in boiling water.
Until I read your work I could never articulate why principals matter very effectively. I clearly see now that without them we slide down one little compromise at a time on the road to hell.
This and other articles you have penned have helped me understand the inexplicable behavior of the left and Obama in particular.
Thanks and keep it coming!!!!
This traces straight back to Cultural Marxism and "Critical Theory", concoctions originated in the works of the Frankfurt School (Herbert Marcuse, notably) and Gramsci. The social part of this was on full display last week with the Komen Foundation kerfuffle: any breach of the prevailing orthodoxy is relentlessly beat down with any means, fair or foul. The very good piece points in the right direction, but stops short. This is a full-blown religion, with its own catechisms and doctrine, where the church is government and the god is man himself, currently personified by that weird skinny guy in the white house.
Anybody who finds this healthy needs to run a self-diagnostic check, pronto.
the President has only 18 things spelled out in the Constitution that he can do. By law he can issue Executive Orders only in extreme emergencies, invasions in time of war, or internal rebellion, etc. Our do nothing Congress is only gov. body that makes laws,declares, & print the money for our nation. The Executive branch has been given this power by congress,& the courts not holding him to the constitution. So our we going to live by the constitution or die it.It's our choice. Power corrupts & absolute power corrupts absolutly. Last I knew we were a constitutional Republic & not a Socialist government.
Random, I would certainly agree that Socialism is at its heart a totalitarian ideal with a goal of achieving a GINI coefficient (measure of wealth distribution or inequality throughout a society) of 0 meaning everyone has an equal wealth. Achieved, as you said, through central management of economic activity.
The US however, has a GINI of .49 and rapidly moving towards greater inequality rather than less. Depending on your point of view what we are seeing is either the failure or success of 30 years of lesser regulated capitalism. Wealth and therefore political power is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The logical conclusion of this trend is a Plutocracy wherein we have rule by the wealthy, or power provided by wealth.
Neither Socialism nor Plutocracy bode well for liberty, freedom, or justice for all. The strength of America has always been her ability to reach compromise, to find equilibrium between a capitalism that is good for all and a capitalism that is good for the few. The capitalists and captains of industry must be afforded the opportunity to benefit and keep for themselves much of their profit, but to achieve balance and social harmony; they must also share profits with their workers in the form of wages and with the nation in the form of taxes. This cannot be dictated from on high; well it can, but should be innate in the patriotic consciousness of the upper class, that their endeavors must contribute to the overall strength of the nation and not just for the greater glory of themselves.
A failure of the capitalists to understand and act on this will lead to greater social instability and unrest, in fact a breakdown of civil institutions, and finally revolt. All of which will have to be put down by a powerful central government. The 2nd amendment will not be infringed upon by the socialist and liberal left, but rather from the plutarchal right. When you see this happening you will know the time is nigh…
Socialism is at it's heart a totalitarian ideal, so it's not that surprising that "Emperor" Obama the bringer of Hope and Change regards himself as Supreme Leader.
The economic implosion the United States is undergoing is also a feature of socialism, wealth confiscation and the idea that everything you own or control can or will become the property of the state according to the whim of your Ruling Class Masters in Washington ultimately leads to North Korea when taken to it's logical conclusion.
We may be in need of a constitutional crisis. It's hard to believe that economic powerhouses such as Texas will simply swallow the toxic medicine dished out by the coastal "clerisy" resident in Washington.
Something's got to give.
I have been following some of the comments, and I must say that I now conclude that the right is the biggest group of whiners I have seen in quite a while. You lost an election, elections have consequences, and now you just whine about it. And you have done so for 3 years. According to you, this President is illegitimate, has questionable religious affiliations, is a socialist, is unconstitutional at every turn on every issue, killed OBL only because of the efforts of Bush, and now presides over, in the words of the authors, a clerisy.
Give it up already. You lost: this President has presided over a recovery, saved the auto industry, finally got the largest mass murderer in US history, instituted health care reform, and has seen the stock market double during his term.
I have a suggestion: take a tip from Al Gore, who graciously accepted an election and moved on. Move on. You doth protest too much and are losing any validity at all.
Kathryn, Thanks you for your intelligent and passionate contribution. However, history and current events suggest that if the government stopped or never had intervened in energy markets the situation would be dire. Currently the federal government provides research and development, education, diplomatic and financial support, military protection, tax policy, direct subsidies, infrastructure development such as roads, pipelines, power, security, health care and countless other supports to the energy sector.
Historically it was the federal government that paid to have railroads built, dams constructed, a power grid established, roads, and communications networks which all supported private sector actors that were heavily subsidized in land grants and tax policy to produce a nascent energy sector. Subsequently these companies were supported through diplomatic and military means to gain access to foreign sources of oil. And they are still are. I mean come on if it wasn’t for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which, under congressional authorization, commenced a minerals information collection activity in 1882 we may not even have a coal industry. The federal government currently spends upwards of a billion dollars conducting research, applied science, pilot-scale testing, technical support, applied engineering projects, and demonstration projects for the improvement of coal extraction and use. You are correct in the sense that private companies earn the profits and the taxpayer gets little benefit as producers keep costs high enough to guarantee enormous profits for themselves and their investors.
Had the US taken your assumption that Alt technology should be developed in the private sector with private capital we would not have the internet, cell phones, global positioning satellite, microwave ovens, nuclear power, nor the current techniques in use in mining and oil drilling as just a few examples of government incubated research and development that was then handed to the for profit private sector. Even then it is the Federal Reserve that makes cheap or free capital available to banks, who profit providing capital to private sector business to develop businesses based of federal R&D.
I’ll agree that ethanol and bio fuels are bad policy, but that is a subsidy to Midwest farmers. Solyndra is an example of horrific policy. The government does not need to be in the venture capital business but should continue to provide monies for research and development of new and alternative technologies. R&D for new and competing technologies is something the private sector will not do.
You would have to be specific about examples of needless and baseless regulation. If it is safety and or environmental regulation, I would argue both are needful and based on sound principles. Labor has no power vis-a-vis the mine operators and conditions in mines have only improved on account of legislation. Sure it cuts into profits to run a safe and relatively healthy mine and history has proven mine operators will put profit over safety unless bludgeoned into action by the federal government. The same holds true for environmental law. I am old enough to remember the brown skies and dead lakes and rivers of America. And I have lived in places around the world that lack an EPA and can tell you, unregulated fossil fuel burning, especially coal, and coal dust in particular, wreaks havoc on crops, paint, lungs, and well everything it touches.
Pick any industry and you will find at its beginning, a federal government subsidy, support, or activity that led to its creation, incubation, and growth.
Regards and best wishes…
I am profoundly disappointed in this essay. I have long been a loyal reader of City Journal and Kotkin and know that they can provide reasoned analysis when they choose. This is not one of those times.
First, they neglect the context of Obama's decision to make a recess appoint to the CFPB, namely Republican opposition to reject any appointment because they don't like the law. They don't have the votes to change the law so they are trying to undermine a duly passed law by abusing the process of advise and consent. if Siegel and Kotkin are so desperate to find a "soft authoritarianism" I would suggest they start there. Obama's choices were to let a law be undermined by obstructionist or to fulfill the law by making the appointment. The process of recess appointments is unfortunate and distasteful and should be ended. But the way to end it is to guarantee presidential nominees a straight up or down down by the full Senate.
And then there are the parts of the essay that are just weird. John Kass' (legitimate) complaints about Mayor Daley strong-arming people into purchasing wrought-iron fencing in the mid-1990s is mentioned: why? There is no connection between that and anything Obama has done. Then there is that bizarre paragraph about Tom Friedman, Steven Rattner, and Andy Stern praising China's handling of their economy. These names seem pulled out of a hat and there connection to anything like a left consensus is, putting it mildly, not reality-based.
And then there is this bizarre theme of dodos, extracted from an old Joe Klein as if it represented Obama's views. If I wanted to be cruel, I could point to many instances when conservatives thought voters were too dumb to govern themselves. That must be why southern conservatives forced African American voters to translate Greek texts in order to qualify to vote.
And then there is this whole thing about regulation and the priestly bureaucracy. Nowhere is it mentioned that there are fewer government employees now than when Obama took office. Nowhere is it mentioned that Obama's strong support of charter schools amounts to a massive deregulation of the education sector. Nowhere is it mentioned that Obama supports the Keystone XL Pipeline and will certainly move to approve it after the election. In the meantime, he is faced with organized and passionate voters who object. I am sure that Siegel and Kotkin would love a little "soft authoritarianism" in order to get that project moving now but those pesky voters are getting in the way.
Obama has made his share of mistakes but in the face of unbelievably harsh partisanship, he has consistently tried to govern from the middle and he has significant achievements to show for his efforts. And this utterly incoherent essay does nothing to diminish that.
Carl you completely missed the boat in your retort to FEDUP. Your response on issue 7 is particularly amusing. The government doesn't have to "intervene" to make energy less expensive. They have to STOP intervening. Stop the strangulation of needless and baseless regulation. Stop the war on fossil fuels which are the cheapest best thing we have. Stop mandating wasteful ethanol and biodiesel which while doing nothing for the environment is causing fuels to rise. Stop the war on coal fired power plant. Alt technology should be developed in the private sector with private capital. That's the way entrepreneurs do it. We know the way crony socialsts do it, they take none of the financial risk and get all of the reward. The taxpayer gets the fist. Case in point Solyndra. I do not disagree in any respect with FEDUPs list and as for the assertion regarding Obama's destructive force and use of unconstitutional Czars to move his agenda through regulation. It is totalitarian in nature and intent and completely lawless.
In your responses you are speculating about things and mixing apples and oranges. So your cases fall flat.
This article is amazing in its clarity and correctness. I find these truths deeply distressing.
I, for one, reject the progressive movement. The Mandarin bureaucrats have a bad record. Even if they could make the trains run on time I'd rather be one of the poor dodos with some personal autonomy. What kind of miserable creature would want to live like a bee in a hive?
FEDUP thanks for supplying some examples in support of yur thesis that this administration is a destructive force intent on destroying this nation....I'll agree with 1-4,6 and 10. The others are iffy that they are true and I attribute your characterization to a bias.
Politically I don't think it would be possible for a democrat to roll back or weaken any of the totalitarian programs set up by the republicans as part of the war on terror and national defense. If President Obama moved to weaken or repeal the Patriot Act, DHS, TSA or refused to sign the NDAA I'm quite sure he would have been aggressiviely attacked and abused from the right for weakening America's ability to defend herself.
The political rewarding of supporters with the largesse of the treasury and jobs is a long standing tradition in American politics and should not neccessarily raise the ire of the electorate. Nor does it rise to the level of destroying the nation. Of course the placing of incompetents in positions of responsibility should, one Michael Brown comes to mind.
Number 7 I think is almost a flip flop on your entire mindset. NOW you WANT the federal government to intervene even more in the energy markets in order to artificially keep energy prices low? Through subsidies, set asides, global military and diplomatic presence, infrastructure development, etc. the federal government is all over energy policy, production, and pricing. You want the Feds to do more? And yet you decry a federal govt initiative to provide R&D money into research for alternative energy sources and scientific advancement that could result in lowering energy consumption requirements or provide a whole new way of producing and using energy? Surely if these R&D efforts come to fruition, the coal and oil industries may be losers but the nation may be stronger. And lets recall that things like the internet, cell phones, GPS, microwaves, etc..all came out of federal R&D programs. Today they are the American economy.
On 11. I don't think The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is patently corrupt as much as it is flawed. And flwaed due to compromise. The fact remains the Feds are pumping 1.1 trillion dollars into a for profit system and the citizenry is not getting the bang for the buck spent. I say eliminate the government money, ie end medicare/medicaid welfare programs or nationalize a not for profit healthcare system where the citizen gets a little more for their 1.1 trillion than they are now. Throwing govt money at for profit industries is crazy.
Look at the Pentagon budget, completely ballooned up once Rumsfeld removed the regulatory requirements for contract vetting and oversight. allright that's enuff for now.
The President would not have to"go it alone" if the Congress would act on his nominations and would be reasonable in their demands. Congress under GOP control has done little to more the American society forward in any area of concern. No movement on job creation, no movement on really cutting the budget, no movement on immigration, a great desire to backtrack on getting another 50+ million Americans insured with mostly private medical insurers, no movement on anything. . .well they have been awefully good at the "war on women". Otherwise, a do nothing Congress. I think the writer of this drivel should direct his anger towards Congress; at least the President is trying to govern within his constitutional authority.
Nation of Dodo's = 160 million people with guns. If Obama continues, what he will reap for his vision will make the fruits of Ft. Sumter look like a pillow fight.
Whenever Bush made any power grab like this, we heard constant warnings about coming fascism. When Obama does, where is the supposedly anti fascist left.
Wilson, 5:28 PM - "This is yellow journalism based on few facts and a lot of completely misinformed views about the so-called opposition. A president who approved bailing out giant banks and auto companies cannot be called a socialist."
The authors didn't call the President a socialist (nice straw man). That said, bailouts are the reallocation of public funds to private enterprises (i.e., crony capitalism). How is that inconsistent with a philosophy of social ownership?
Your argument -- that the President helped rich bankers and capitalists, so he can't be a collectivist -- is specious.
Don't underestimate O's accomplishments. He already has taken control on most sectors of what was once a free economy. Finance,energy,healthcare, real estate,academia, are all under his thumb.Illegal aliens, students, mortgage holders,and so many others sit at his knee asking for his favors. O has discovered free money, unlimited borrowing financed by our grandchildren and the destruction of other currencies.Weapons systems that don't work, delusional green energy, unlimited entitlement, O's got money for everything and the GOP has given it to him.
If anyone needed a history lesson on how there became a Nazi Germany, a Fascist Italy, or a Chavez in Venezuela, just watch what Obama did with his unconstitutional appointments. First, when Bush was President, he argued against recess appointments, then, as President himself, wouldn't even restrain himself by what his own people had argued just 3 years before.
The point isn't that he did it (although you'd think someone proclaimed a constitutional scholar by the media wing would think things like this through a little better) but it's the reaction of the Democrats and the MSM. They're letting him get away with it and the country, and our constitution, has suffered a blow because of it.
Good article, but a bit understated from my perspective. "2013 could possibly bring something approaching a constitutional crisis." Uh, if the current resident of the White House is not eligible under Article II, Section 1; has claimed the power to indefinitely detain US citizens without charge; unilaterally imposes laws without input from the legislative branch; and deprives that branch of its right to provide advice and consent on the war in Libya, appointments, and treaties, we already have a constitutional crisis!
The article avoided stating outright the worst-case implications of a 'constitutional crisis' brought about by an out-of-control, authoritarian federal government.
We are neither Chinese nor European, and have no longstanding tradition of submission to the state. I would like to think the cadre of hardcore, old-school socialists who now form the leadership caste of the Democratic Party are not so foolishly blinded by ideology they would expect docile obedience from free Americans.
One more thing: Marxists and other authoritarians don't like fair elections. If we see widespread voter suppression, Milwaukee-like flash mob poll disruptions, and multiple instances of outright ballot box manipulation and ACORN-engineered registration fraud on election day next November, we'll know their intentions for sure.
Not too new a situation: Senator Daniel Webster observed in the Nineteenth Century “There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters”
Fantastic article. This analysis really explains the Obama Democrat mentality and why it is so destructive to our Constitutional Republic.
The dodos are the two who wrote this article
Bypass Congress and there will be the American Revolution 2.0.
Who says that Gridlock in the House and Senate isn't a good thing, its a part of our Representative Republic. If you don't want more gridlock win elections.
Minor quibble: there's nothing NEW about the left being authoritarian. With only one exception that I'm aware of, ALL the authoritarian regimes that have existed in the last 150 years were from the left.
Nothing new about the left's authoritarianism.
From National Socialism to Stalinism to North Korean Juche to the Obama Regime, these people are devout totalitarians throughout history.
"Their wallets would be a lot fatter if they'd sign up with the American Petroleum Institute."
---Mmmmm, I doubt it. Do you have any idea the kind of money you warmists pump into the global warming money machine? And your reaction clearly demonstrates that AGW is a religion for you people. Heresy will not be tolerated! Well, apparently it will be, because Kyoto is dead and Copenhagen was a joke. Cap n'tax will never happen and global warming is dead last on anyone's list of concerns. You warmers lost big time. Now go away please. Don't go away mad (like Algore). Just go away.
Notice the early Progressives used independent agencies to govern, because electoral governing got messy. The NY & NJ Port Authority is a major example, possibly also the Federal REserve System.
This is yellow journalism based on few facts and a lot of completely misinformed views about the so-called opposition. A president who approved bailing out giant banks and auto companies cannot be called a socialist. The Republicans are now supporting a theological nanny-state candidate who wants to tell people they cannot use contraception -- with the vast implications that entails, not just in the bedroom but in the marketplace and in the country's history of religious freedom. And yet these authors complain, incorrectly, that the scientists who work on weather models are in some global conspiracy to push a climate-change agenda onto the public: a theory which even on its face is risible. It is easy to see why the oil industry would suppress climate-change science information, as it might impede their profitability. But what's in it for atmospheric scientists? In a word, nothing. Their wallets would be a lot fatter if they'd sign up with the American Petroleum Institute.
This is why, at all costs, the american people need to ignore this beauty pagent and elect a congress that will reinstate and enforce the constitution. And if the progressives, communists, fascists, and Nazi's don't like it, they can all move to Communist China and live happily ever after.
We will either vote them out or it will be a revolution in short order.
The Left’s growing support for a soft authoritarianism is reminiscent of the 1930s, when many on both right and left looked favorably at either Stalin’s Soviet experiment or its fascist and National Socialist rivals.
Professor Harold Laski, a leading theorist of the British Labour Party during the 1930s/40s, wrote that once Labour took power and enacted the Marxist-based centralized economy he favoured, the rival Conservatives should be allowed re-election subsequently only on the understanding that they would be constitutionally forbidden to roll back Labour's essential reforms. The radical, post-WW2 Labour government lasted in power only until 1951 but the Conservative governments which succeeded it implicitly accepted Laski's doctrine. The crippling nationalisation of large swathes of the British economy and the extra-legal authority of trades unions to resist reform lasted until the Thatcherite revolution of 1979. What Obama and his allies are doing will not be irreversible but the reversion may take longer than Americans think.
"Gerrard January 08, 2012 at 9:18 AM -- 'I despise the Obama presidency. He's ignorant and arrogant.'"
Ignorant, no. Obama and his puppeteers, as well as his propagandists in the Fifth Column formerly known as the mainstream media, know exactly what they do.
IMO, it's akin to the Big Lie that Hitler and Goebbels, the propaganda minister, used.
What follows purportedly came from Goebbels: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.
"It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."
I suggest this accurately characterizes Obama, the Democrat Party, his and their tactics, and the complicitous once-mainstream media.
I think of Randolph Bourne as *anti*-authoritarian.
Aren't we just a wee bit over the top here? Stalin, the Chinese, authoritarian rule,constitutional crises, nightmare scenarios?
Brother. Get a grip.
If there is any constitutional crisis in the future, the Republicans will play a major role in it.
The sad fact is that this President is as middle of the road as any Democrat President can be. Tax cuts for the wealthy, extended wars, increased military spending (to date), no public option, continuation of Bush limits on personal freedoms, cuts to Medicare, and on and on and on.
Your complaint about the appointment of Cordray is absurd...Republicans played games with recess and were called on it. And you know what? They have let it drop because they had a losing hand.
Stop it fellas...you are being ridiculous.
The ObamaCrats are quite aware of the RINO-Conservative split in the GOP and see the opportunity to impose a more authoritarian collectivist totalitarianism: in a word Fascism. The RINOs have long dominated the GOP and as long as that situation remains we will have no effective opposition party. The slide to dictatorial government will continue.
We're seeing 1960s liberals age into stern taskmasters who deman the country follow the idealistic precepts they laid out decades ago, democracy be damned. And they are counting on a pliable media-raised Millennial generation to be their shock troops.
Love it. 2012, pretty darn important.
At least the term "Liberal" which implies an affinity for freedom and liberty is now shunned by the totalitarians. Although the term "Progressive" is shaky also since no one seems to want to identify the end state to which they seek which is complete control of a society.
To add a footnote to Jascha Kessler's comments concerning the word/name "podestá," it should be observed that "pelosi" means something like "hairy persons." Indeed, the whole subject is hairy.
What is so depressing is the combination of arrogance and ignorance of the Obama administration and the media. There willingness to openly say things that are so stupid (Pelosi as speaker saying we need to move away from carbon based fuel and use more natural gas, Obama's green energy pipeless dream that defies the laws of physics and economics, Harry Reid's unicorns and Thomas Friedman's desire for wise leader to override the political process that is America) that they should be ashamed, instead seems to do them little harm because their audience is equally ignorant and clueless. I would feel much better if any of these yahoos would display the slightest bit of humility when talking about spending billions and trillions of dollars we don't have to fix problems they clearly do not understand.
Those politicians and their supporters who do not believe that the American people are qualified to make these decisions are by definition un-American. America is based on the compelling idea, as Lincoln said so elegantly at Gettysburg: "...that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson ; A bloody revolution every 18 years or so is desirable in a democracy. We're way overdue. Good thing the right has most of the guns.
Geez. I thought I had sleepless nights worrying over the speed with which Obamarx is putting out the light of the world. After this article I don't think I'll sleep a wink for days.
This just goes to prove to me that the humanities and social sciences need to be completely eliminated.
What kind of mental defective did not see this coming?
We told you so.
The fascist (national socialist; NAZI = German National Socialist Workers Party) were on the far LEFT of the political spectrum, not the right.
The political spectrum goes from total control on the far left to no control on the far right.
Obama is single handidly the biggest destructive force in this country. Until he is ousted from office, nothing will improve.
1. Signing the NDAA
2. Launching operations like F&F and Operation Cash Walker while cracks down on medicinal marijuana businesses.
3. Expanding the Patriot Act.
4. Refusing to get on board his own debt/deficit panel.
5. Rewarding all of the wall street bad actors with top posts in his Admn. Namely, Geithner, Summers, Liu, Daley, Bernake, Rattner, Rubin, Corzine, Gentsler, et al.
6. Refusing to prosecute any crimes on wall street and instead having the worst AG in American history attack states trying to deal with the illegal immigration problem as well as voter fraud.
7. Refusing to take steps to curtail out of control energy costs and pandering to his fringe enviro-whacko supporters by refusing to expand dometic exploration of energy resources and failing to sign on the Keystone Pipeline.
8. Cutting the military while growing the domestic agencies to obscene levels.
9. Appointing "Czars" with no oversight whatsoever.
10. Expanding DHS and TSA to ridiculous levels.
11. Ramming through a corrupt health care law no one wanted that is the product of fraud, cronyism, etc.
12. Rewarding fat cat donors through the DOE loan program.
13. Rewarding fat cat donors through the Stim Bill.
14. Trying to pass a massive energy tax.
15. Setting loose a radical EPA to bankrupt the coal industry which is responsible for 75% of the nations' energy.
You guys want more? And spare me the "Bush did it too" nonsense.
It can happen here. The most frightening aspect of this scenario is that if the executive does usurp the rights and powers of Congress and the states, the press will be far more likely to applaud the president than to even mention the objections of the rest of us.
This editorial is absolutely ridiculous. Obama's "executive power grab," while extremely alarming, is not part of some "vast left-wing conspiracy"; rather, it is the result of decades of the executive branch appropriating powers beyond those assigned by, or those which can reasonably be extrapolated from the Constitution. Furthermore, the fact that someone of your intellectual capacity associates the President with "leftists" and "socialists" is dismaying. Perhaps he uses rhetoric that might appeal to such types, but a community college course in comparative politics would make it clear to you that his actions are, for the most part, comparable to the previous two Presidents.
If you would like something to be alarmed about, I would be alarmed that the President recently signed an act (supported by members of both parties) that would give his office the power to detain Americans "suspected" of terrorism indefnitely.
Like many of the "dodo" class I hope Robert Mugabe Jr. gets his way and takes the country down. It is then and only then we will wipe Progressives off the map. Bush was too early but I'll say now, "Bring it on baby, bring it on".
Considering civil liberties, the Bush-Obama administration has been a disaster.
FEDUP please explain how this Presidency is destroying the nation?
Chauncy, Of course progressives don't believe in democracy. It doesn't work, which is why we have a constitutional republic.
Democracy is majority rule which inevitably is teh enemy of liberty as the majority will use govenment power to tyrannize and opress minority viewpoints. Hence, Marbury v. Madison and the principle of judicial review which overturns majority legislation that is extraconstitutional in nature. The legislative writes laws, the courts can review, and the executive is supposed to faithfully carry out those laws that are constitutional. Unfortunaly, republicans have advanced the unitary theory of executive power which claims that the executive can interpret those laws and execute them any way he sees fit.
Republicans consistently say things like democracy, will of the people, and judicial activism and people like you have bought into the concept that the majority should have its way, completely undermining the foundations of the republic.
Great essay. I did not vote for Obama, and every fear I had of an Obama Presidency has manifested itself by a factor of 100.
This Admn is a destructive force intent on destroying this nation.
Do any of you who voted for Obama not see the path of destruction his policies have had? A 2nd term of Obama will be the end of this nation.
Very nice essay.
And, yes, disappointing as it is, the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party doesn't believe in democracy. Or rather, it's members identify democracy not with process but with specific policy initiatives. Hence the appeal to anti-democratic process to secure specific initiatives.
All is not so well in the garden.
Ok reading these comments I realise just how ignorant you all are about the source and abuse of constitutional power by the executive. So not expecting any of you to suddenly change your ingrained false belief system, consider this reality, and not the bogeyman and straw men conjured up by demagogue writers, pundits, and politicians on the right who are aggressively undermining the Republic.
Since his days as a lawyer in Ronald Reagan’s White House, Supreme Court Justice Alito has pushed the unitary theory of executive power. At a Federalist Society symposium in 2001, Alito recalled that when he was in the Office of Legal Counsel in Ronald Reagan’s White House, “we were strong proponents of the theory of the unitary executive, that all federal executive power is vested by the Constitution in the President.”
In 1986, Alito advocated the use of “interpretive signing statements” by presidents to counter the judiciary’s traditional reliance on congressional intent in assessing the meaning of federal law.
Under President Bush, “signing statements” became commonplace and amount to his rejection of legal restrictions especially as they bear on presidential powers. Presidnet Bush also used recess appointments to place Federalist Society Judges on the circuit and district courts.
I got it, you don't like President Obama's attempts to overturn 30 years of Republican policy which has served to make capitalism serve the capitalists and noone else. That the economic system should serve to strenghten the nation and its peoples might not make sense to you, but what good is an economic system if it doesn't serve the needs of the nation?
Just as President Bush said, "This would be a lot easier if it were a dictatorship",the federalist society of lawyers and judges supporting a unitary theory of exective power are working to make it so. And they all come from the right!
Am I pessimistic? Yes. Am I 100% committed to oppose Obama and the Democrat agenda? You bet, till the end if need be. I guess I'm just a freedom loving dodo.
perhaps a real civil war as well as depression and international war in the near future. i would rather not see it, and i do not as yet expect it, but the odds of it happening seem to be rising. who will our soldiers fight for? that's what leaders and voters need to think about imho...
Unitary theory of executive power and the federalist society of lawyers and judges who support it are responsible for the Imperial Presidency that is forming. President Obama is following precedents set by Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton,and Bush. Just as republican Presidents used this new found authority to dismantle progressive legislation it can and should be expected that other Presidents will use this power.
A GLOOMY LOOK AT THE TRUTH. But the truth it is. It is not only The President , but the whole of what he has surrounded himself with.I truly don't believe he is as smart/wise as the media et al portray him to be. He is nothing more than a front for the liberal agenda that has been around since the founding. He has allowed the dreams of the 'progressives' to be taken off the shelf,dusted off and implemented.
Can the agenda be stopped?? Yes but not without a fight which will drag the USA down in the eyes of the World and wound us for a few decades.
Don't they understand that this will come back to bite them in the butt. At some point, we'll have a Republican president who will follow the precedent set by Obama. Then the left will howl about how horrible it is...
I thought Daniel Bell's phrase "the priests of the machine" noted in the article may be of interest to you.
""" Emily Piltvan January 08, 2012 at 12:26 AM
First and foremost, who can blame Obama? We are governed by the WORST Congress in the history of this country. Unfortunately this electorate put . . . . blah, blahbedeeblah . . . """
Sure thing darling: "They're ALL bad," "Moral Equivalence," etc.
Yes, the growth of the imperial presidency over the decades and the reach and grab of the executive branch have led to this. But we do get to blame Obama, because he is the nightmare we were warned about IF the executive branch kept accreteing power. This evolution of ever-greater centralized power was just waiting for someone as malevolent as our current President. You're implying by your excoriation of Congress that their "worseness" justifies Obama's actions.
I would have thought, at one time, that the views expressed by these authors to be those of crackpots. No longer. What is happening with the federal government and this administration is very worrisome. That reasonable men with all their faculties can now say that democracy and freedom are dying, and be absolutely correct, is very sobering. America has reached its governance Rubicon, and is about to cross it. God help us all.
The authoritarian way has been going on since Obama took office, and before. For example, see John Kass' just after the election articles on the Chicago 100's Obama and Emanuel took with them to man the Czar chairs, new positions, agencies, etc. We will need not only an election, but a horde of brave and courageous prosecutors to fight back.
Siegel: "The legacy of the Obama years—once so breathlessly associated with hope and reconciliation—may instead be growing pessimism and polarization."
That "hope and reconciliation" was a lie from the beginning--and what's more, Obama's left-wing supporters always wanted it to be a lie.
Go read the left-wing blogs by Paul Krugman and Daily KOS and Moveon.org and elsewhere.
All those left-wingers are quite open that they assumed--and HOPED--that all that Obama rhetoric about "transcending partisanship" and "no red states or blue states" was just that--rhetoric thrown in to win Independent and moderate votes. When what the Left really wanted out of Obama was a fiery and ruthless partisan.
And to the extent that Obama has not acted as strongly as, say, Hugo Chavez, the Left has been disappointed in him: Why isn't Dick Cheney in jail?
“the average American individual is morally and intellectually inadequate to a serious and consistent conception of his responsibilities as a democrat.”
Sounds like Obama to me.....
re statement in text: "This autocratic agenda of enhanced executive authority has strong support with people close to White House, such as John Podesta of the Center for American Progress." If there is anything to the ancient surmise under the rubric of Onomastics [that names often determine role in life, character or fate], then the name PODESTA signifies in Italian CAPO DI COMUNE, or Chief of the City, or capital. That person is referred to as the Podesta today as well as long long ago.
Ergo: I am not surprised today's John Podesta has seized the power of authority in policy in the White House. He was aptly named at birth.
"...either Stalin’s Soviet experiment or its fascist and National Socialist rivals"
A small nit. Fascism and National Socialism are close cousins of Soviet-style socialism, hence the bitter enmity. The notion that the political landscape is defined by socialism on the left and fascism/national socialism on the right with classical liberal democracy in the middle is a triumph of socialist & progressive propaganda.
I find it unsurprising that Obama is simultaneously drawing down our military, with China the obvious global successor.
I am unconvinced that the country will emerge from Obama's second term intact and free. Constitutional crisis, states of "emergency", wars of distraction, and a growing rebellion may lead to secession, attacks on the US, or worse.
Not too long ago Japan was the future and we were told we would need to be more Japanese, now its China, and we need to be like the Chinese. When America is clearly on top, we are taking advantage of the rest of the world and need to be less American. Am I sensing a pattern here?
I'm trying to figure out how the situation you describe is a "soft" authoritarianism.
merely getting rid of Obama won't cut it, the repubs lining up to replace him are only slightly less progressive,
The only hope for America is not to give Obama another term. His policies are against everything that America stands for. Vote for Obama is voting AGAINST America.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.” —C.S. Lewis
Aside from similar ideologies, the left in the US has another more pragmatic reason for finding common cause with China. As only current candidate for rival superpower status, China needs to be appeased, not confronted.
I agree with most of your concerns, but I think we also need to talk about the time lags for getting appointments made. It sure would be nice if we could get a rule that all appointments will get an up or down vote within 6 months--should equally help/hinder both parties in the long run.
If there is no enforcement of the Law, there is no Law. It doesn't matter what is written down on paper.
The Constitution is not being enforced, so it is no longer the Law of the Land. The whims of politicians in DC are the real Law.
The Constitution desperately needs enforcement. The provisions for enforcement that the Framers put into the Constitution are not effective. Because of the way the Federal government works, enforcement will not be added to the Constitution. The Constitution itself is flawed.
You can complain all you want about how bad the Leftists are. They just laugh at you when the moment door closes because they don't care about your whining. They are happy knowing they are getting their way.
No amount of complaining will fix a flawed Constitution. Your job is to fix the Constitution, not make whiny noises about the symptoms of the flaw. Give it some enforcement. Give it some teeth.
Adding a fourth branch of government is one way of fixing the problem. A new branch can be added that represents the Constitution; that is empowered to arrest, impeach, and bring issues to resolution. That would solve most of the current problems with the Federal government.
It should be remembered that in the run up to the American Revolution, the British backed down twice over the issue of taxation. Once over the Stamp Act and once over the Townsend Act. The British Parliament repealed both laws in the face of fierce. largely nonviolent colonial opposition. Of course, the British went on to do more stupid things that finally brought on the final explosion at Lexington and Concord, but they did relent on unpopular policies earlier in the crisis. If Obama is by reelected in 2012, it will be time for the small government conservative and Libertarians to put their money where their mouth is and rebell, nonviolently, like the colonists did in the first two pre-revolutionary crisis. This leads to another question, are Obama and his "progressive" friends just as stupid and just as tough as King George III and his advisers? But if the future of freedom in the USA is really jeopardized as much by an Obama reelection as many conservative writers seem to fear, then it really will be time to revolt.
concerned American ex-pat in Seoul
The Clerisy approach will fail, because unlike Chicago people can't run away, to other places, and people expect results.
The more likely happening is a "self-coup" ala Fujimoro, in Peru, with Obama declaring the elections "illegal" after failing to fraud his way through, and ruling by decree. With TSA agents fanning out along with DHS to enforce his decrees. The only thing that matters if five voters: Justices Wise Latina Sotomayor, Kennedy, Ruth Buzzi Ginsberg, Kagan, and Souter. They're sure to vote for Obama suspending elections and ruling by decree.
And that's sure to provoke continent-wide rebellion. For Clerisy to rule, it has to produce RESULTS. They've failed. Massively. Much of the population loathes them, as does the regular military. This won't be Syria or Iran (the Dem Clerisy dream) but more akin to Libya. With Obama screaming ala Khadaffi, "zenga zenga dar dar!"
Neither of the two parties offers a true liberal (as in small government platform). As noted by David Brooks about a half year ago, it is Soviet formula A versus Soviet formula B. It is sad when the American people are not offered anything but competing socialist agendas.
The Democrats better enjoy their arrogance and stupidity while they can because after Nov 6, 2012 they are going to have their rear ends handed to them in the biggest landslide in history.The fall is going to be hard, fast and devastating.
Evil always wins a few on its way to final destruction. Democrats should enjoy their false confidence while they may. The entire Democrat Labor Union paradigm is aught but the dying gasp of morally bankrupted Marxism that murdered 200 million Souls & ravaged the entire 20th century. Democrats, Barack Obama and everything they stand for are antithetical to American Liberty and virtue. Obama himself is a Communist ideologue; Obama the mongrel pet of men and women more evil and mutinous than himself. All of them are traitors to the blood-bought Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness that inspired the Founding of the United States. The Obama cohort is a shameful group of shameless people who take advantage of the ignorance and self-indulgence their corrupt policies have engendered within the Body Politic. The lowest Hell is not low enough for these craven monsters. God rot their Souls.
Nicely written article.
The fact that ALL of the conspirators of Fast and Furious operation are not doing hard time time right now, speaks volumes of length this rotten administration will go to subvert the laws of this country. The MSM are complicit as well.
On the other hand, when my father in law was in a nursing home, the unionized staff (1199) got absentee ballots send to the nursing home for ALL the patients and mysteriously, all ballots were voted down the Democrat line.
How about that?
I despise the Obama presidency. He's ignorant and arrogant.
Part of the problem is that far too many voters are, to be charitiable, poorly informed. I worked a janitorial job in a nursing home while completing my Masters in Medieval History, and at election time all of the residents, including those with advanced Alzheimer's, were herded down to the voting booth, where to a one they voted Republican.
Friends of mine who worked with people that were, to use the old term, retarded, noted similar things. Why should someone with a graduate degree share the same level of voting as someone who cannot even feed themselves?
The principled opposition to the progressive clericy's usurpation of our of constitutional birthright is simple to state: We trust the spontaneous order emerging from the voluntary and free transactions we undertake during the course of our daily lives more than we do the order imposed by an enlightened few, from which there is no recourse. In other words, we don't trust you to do better by us than we can do without you.
Our most pressing problem is that both political parties stand with the progressive clericy against us. The GOP opposes the clericy only when it's not getting its fair share of the power, influence and money. The clericy understand this and work with the establishment of both parties to coopt Republican politicians as soon they enter the game. This is why GOP opposition to the clericy's expanding power is focused on getting a fair piece of the action and not on the constitutional or democratic validity or desireablity of the expansion.
We the People have no established political champions who will fight to preserve our birthright. Hence the Tea Party on the right and OWS on the left.
Why all the words. Those of use with spine can not believe you write all these words without using the only word that counts : impeachment. Nothing these appointed individuals do will be legal. Nothing.
"If Obama does win, 2013 could possibly bring something approaching a constitutional crisis. With the House and perhaps the Senate in Republican hands, Obama’s clerisy may be tempted to use the full range of executive power."
If he doesn't show some cooperation with such a Congress, he'll be impeached. And if not impeached, I'd predict that the People will almost certainly go into full scale rebellion, against a dictator seeking to rule by executive fiat.
The problem is that because of the media's total dedication to the Obama agenda, as proven by their eagerness to do any and everything to see to it that he gets a second term, the Republican nominee is at an extreme disadvantage in getting his message out to the "dodos" who make up a significant part of the voting population. I believe that when left-wing pundits and Democratic operatives use that word, they are not referring to the presumed conservatives who dwell in the vastness between the coasts, but to their own potential voters: recent young college grads who can't find work, and may be thinking of switching to the Republicans; public service union members such as police and firemen who are torn between seeing their sweetheart deals continue and their gut instinct that tells them something is deeply wrong with the system that grants them those benefits; and young minority voters that are thinking of straying from the Democratic reservation. The media doesn't want Romney or whoever else is the Republican nominee to have a clear chance to get to those people and explain to them his vision for economic recovery. That's why their stories and narratives are all centered around infighting among the candidates, or whether Evangelicals will support a Mormon, or other diversions such as contraceptives. If you've noticed, the media has stopped running negative stories on the economy. It's easy for us to laugh at them as they run around breathlessly reporting every tiny bit of potentially good economic news as a sure sign of sunshine and rainbows ahead, but they are suceeding in keeping bad economic news from being the headline, and thus dis-allowing the Republican candidate to speak to those issues. Also, by clogging up valuable airtime on non-stories of imaginary economic good news, and the Republican primary horserace, they are keeping Obama's brash and unprecedented authoritarian political moves under the radar and out of view of the "dodos" whose votes he needs. Obama can only get away with this lawlessness if the media stands out of his way as he trashes the constitution. Expect this to continue.
Gore Vidal said this was coming in a London Times poece 9/30/2009. Nobody would go near it then, and he was written off as an aging crank way over the hill. The following January Mort Zuckerman laid into BO in U.S.News Several months later DR. Stanley Fish wrote in The NYTimes that BO could not carry W's lunch bucket. Democrats all.
First and foremost, who can blame Obama? We are governed by the WORST Congress in the history of this country. Unfortunately this electorate put into power 535 do-nothings who take up space and cash their paychecks (from the taxpayers and special interests).
Second, this isn't the first time America has displayed "authoritarianism" as you call it. Here are a couple of "democratic" practices City Journal can do a piece on:
-The millions of US citizens of voting age that have been barred from casting any ballot
-The billions of no-bid contracts that were awarded to private businesses because they were "friends" of people in government; the goods & services delivered by these contractors were well under quality.
-The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay rounded up during the War on Terror that have not yet had a court date and most likely won't have one.
I could go on and on.
Also, if Obama's authoritarian actions are such a menace, then it would be remiss that CJ not mention similar actions taken up by past presidents. Every administration uses Executive Powers to put forth policy that it feels can't be effectively debated by Congress.
As usual, this is another partisan piece that highlights problems but never offers solutions.
Actually, you present the rosy scenario version of another Obama term. There won't be a growing pessimism and polarization--there will be a schism in the nation. Look for the Union to fracture, and America as The United States of America to disappear, as did the old Soviet Union. Look for the formation of new nations, such as The United States of Southern America, or Southwestern America, or Midwest America, or Mountain West America. Or something like Pakistan before the creation of Bangladesh--a country split into the coasts with another nation in between. The center of the country I don't think is going to tolerate the Obamanation that you depict.
It might be a good idea to start asking politicians what they think about the possibility of civil disobedience to, for starters, some of the more egregious regulations--and it might also be a good idea to start creating legal funds to defend individuals and groups disobeying unconstitutional laws. A little further down the road, talk of secession will begin--perhaps first of all in the form of the right to opt out of certain regulations and central authority; maybe a little bit beyond that, communities will seek to buy theemselves out of bankrupt states. Battling the leftists in the political arena, which is heavily stacked in their favor, might, in other words, become lest cost-effective and overly discouraging compared to the idea that we might let them have the state as long as it is left an empty shell. What are think tanks and conservative media outlets for if not to explore such options to going down with the liberals' Titanic state?
I have been alarmed since I watched Nancy Pelosi, on three different cable channels, say: you cannot know what is in this bill until we pass it -- in reference to the healthcare reform bill.
We seem to slide into acquiescence to the damnedest arrogance, without even noticing, if the outrage is being committed by 'our' side.
.. not with a bang, but a whimper, as TSEliot noted.
Excellent, excellent article. Thank both of you for authoring this.
During his second term in office, Mr Obama can rule by Führerbefehl. This will bypass that messy thing called the Constitution; too old-fashioned anyway, written by a bunch of rich, old white men.
Fred,Terrific article.A lot for people to digest,but every citizen in America should read this.
Steve Rattner's opinions are of little consequence as he has none that is original, and just borrows downwind from what blows upwind. His lack of general education and single-minded capitalism inform his view of the oppressive Chinese regime. He is no liberal, nor is he convincing. THat you choose to quote him actually keeps him in the news and viable.
He should and may be indicted for his criminal misdeeds and ongoing questions about investing Bloomberg's finances while under discipline.
I fear that the pool of acceptable political solutions has been stymied and polarized by an unqualified commitment to short-term gratification amongst the current generation of men. That and an utter disregard for the virtues that earlier had established the American character. Such virtues as honor, honesty, faithfulness, commitment to a purpose higher than the self; all these are now avoided and bemoaned as if their very presence would immediately relegate any society to a pariah status on the world-scene. It has taken longer than originally opined by the likes of Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt, but Progressivism has finally overcome the native truths that all men are born with. By these truths were the foundational documents, the Declaration and the Constitution, grounded and American law and more importantly American character established.
What is left for man but ultimate despotism and eventual annihilation? And, if the Creator so wills, a cosmic reset of social constructs that allow man once again to rightly acknowledge his nature as the creature he is, who must struggle to attain the reflected glory of his Creator that is his inheritance.
Kudos for the article. But i think it goes further. The Clintons' administration were not a fabled past from which we have declined. They embraced the Gramscian-Marxist 'revolutionary critique' of society (thus helping to establish that entire bankrupt approach to politics and society here).
The 1970s-1980s attempt by Western socialists to establish a 'Westernized Marxism' found a home here in the radical-Left that became a 'base' of the Democratic Party. It saw its largest success during the era of 'governance feminism' (under the Clintons)and thus the National Nanny State from the Left became "sister under the skin" to the National Security State re-invigorated by the neocon Rightists.
Neither the NNS or the NSS have any use for 'deliberative democratic politics' or for that matter for The People (after all, either The People 'just don't get it' or else they are 'isolationist'and in either case are outmoded fuddy-duddies.
Hence it is even forthrightly proposed by some that the 'Chinese' provide an example. Whatever that 'example' offers, it cannot be implemented by a polity grounded in the Framing Vision of 1787.
After all, if the Constitution is - like any pomo literary 'text' - merely a work of fiction about which a contemporary reader's 'feelings' are equally as valid as whatever the Author was trying to say, then why can't the Executive or the Beltway 'read the text' of the Constitution the same way?
Obama continues Bush 2's embrace of this from the Right, as Justice Brennan once embraced it from and for the Left.
We in a heepa trubble.
Like many Americans I have tended to be partial to divided government for all the usual reasons. But I'll tell ya, I am reconsidering that stance. As lines have hardened, and as we are now in a culture of eternal spin, divided government seems to be enabling demosclerosis. There's no accountability anymore.
In that regard, I find your tale of a new authoritarianism only moderately compelling, and probably a bit overstuffed. A good chunk of me yearns to see some real leadership from left or right of the stand-and-deliver variety. If the left has the edge, let them see what they can do, and vice versa. Then let the people decide what path they find more compelling.
There is also, as you don't mention, a heady strain of authoritarianism on the right. It's not all peaches and cream and Adam Smith over there, as Rick Santorum's boomlet may indicate. But I have never been overly troubled by such nuttiness on the grounds that the American people tend to be a sensible lot in the main, and if someone tried to shove a right-wing social agenda down their throats they would give as good as get. Same for the left wing autocrats, too, I expect. If they go too far, they'll be trimmed back, no? Meantime, might it not be a good idea for someone to take more direct responsibility for the direction of policy?
When Clinton was President you guys called him everything you now call Obama. How did he become a "Truman majoritarian"? The "widespread skepticism" on climate change is not among actual scientists, but professional conservatives.
Very well written. Thanks. Not a cheerful scenario - but I fear within the realm of possibility. What can we do?
What in plain English is occurring is Bolshevization, which failed Russia from the late 1920s on. Nathan Sharansky, a young man in the Gulag prison in the 80s and then in Lubyanka before being allowed out, he discovered, to his amazement, that the Soviet union's economy was a barter economy [Cf 1998's autobiography, FEAR NO EVIL] Rand and CIA refused to see it and scouted the old, eminent economist Brutzkov. Reagan seems to have understood that somehow, and put unbearable pressure on a collapsing State with the Star Wars competition for spending in space. How this imminent "burocrazia" can be driven onto an off-ramp is the looming question. The GOP seems clueless.
They have given us into the hands of the new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evenings; and they know no songs.
We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.
When will Manhattan Institute print an article on the Impeachment Process?
Someone has to do that; the sooner the better.
Patrick asks "Does he even like America?"
It's a good question. The media will not entertain it and it's tricky ground in any case challenging a person on those grounds.
From the beginning is the media has had a complete lack of curiosity about his past.
As far as his "Americanism" goes I don't think that he considers himself American in the way most do.
Instead he's part of an international 'community' of thought that was brought up to believe not in America's greatness but was imbued from his youth with the opposite notion that the problems in the world, poverty, disease etc, were always traceable to the power residing in America.
This "community of thought" was previously see in the musings of Madeleine Albright with her "Superpower" comments.
0bama's charge, at least in part was to "Take America down a notch".
Putting us into a staggering debt situation, creating a dependency culture, as well as the arrogant bypassing of the legislative authority through executive action the piece speaks to are but some of the elements in this horror show.
But back to the original question, "does he even like America?". The answer to this can be traced back to where he spent 20 years in a racist church in Chicago. Of course not.
Astute analysis. I live in Chicago, and it's ironic that the new mayor here, Rahm Emmanual, is diligently clearing away the thickets of Daley-era "Chicago Way" rule. Governing like a monarch "worked" for Daley because he was able to attract business and foster loyalty. Unfortunately, he left the city deep in debt. Emmanual's been pretty hard on city employees, for example, forcing CTA employees to choose between pay raises and an increase in fares, and organizing a race between public and private garbage collectors. The CTA chief said that working with him was "like working with a Republican." Clearly, this sort of accountancy-based, unsentimental, and objective government is what's needed in a time of declining tax revenue.
However, I have noticed an increase in government advertising. Probably more than half of bus and train station ads are for government services. A new one went up in a bus shelter the other day, informing me that "Wasting Water Is Weird." (Wasting public money on stupid ads isn't?) Other ads typically are directions to obtain welfare. But in any case, Emmanual knows the "Chicago Way" left the city deep in debt and is trying to turn the page. Besides, insofar as it worked at all, it was only because of charismatic native son Daley. Even if you disagreed with him, we all knew that Daley loved Chicago, and felt his personal prestige to be coextensive with that of the city. Nepotistic, certainly, but never one to sell the city out for his personal gain.
With Obama, one is not so sure. Does he even like America?