Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The United States of Apparatchiks

"Unless specifically authorized by the head of the agency, no rulemaking shall commence nor be included on the Plan without the approval of the agency's Regulatory Policy Office... ."
-- White House Executive Order, January 18, 2007
Now that Nazi Germany and Soviet communism have been defeated, George W. Bush wants to imitate them. Henceforth, he has ordered that every federal agency "must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee" to oversee and approve or disapprove "the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries."

In Hitler's Germany, such people were known as Gauleiters. In the former USSR they came to be called apparatchiks. Under the Chinese constitution they are referred to as "party leaders":
Supervision over leading organs of the Party and over Party members holding leading positions must be strengthened and the system of inner-Party supervision constantly improved.
* * *
Acting on the principle that the Party commands the overall situation and coordinates the efforts of all quarters, the Party must play the role as the core of leadership among all other organizations at the corresponding levels.
As in Germany and the U.S.S.R., for every governing office in China -- provincial governor, city mayor, local school superintendent, etc. -- there is a corresponding Communist Party Leader who is empowered, as Bush now wants to empower his newly-created "Regulatory Policy Officers" -- with a veto over any government activity deemed not in the best interests of the Party.

It's "a terrible way to govern, but great news for special interests,” says congressman Henry Waxman. It's also the anti-democratic way, as any number of fascist and communist regimes have shown us.

It also may be unconstitutional. Federal regulatory agencies are the creation of Congress, not the executive. They are answerable to Congress, not a president intent on promoting "an ideology of lawlessness."

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