Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

The Federal Octopus

Federal agencies now exist not for the public good but for their employees’ benefit and Obama’s agenda.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

 

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

13 Thoughts on “The Federal Octopus

  1. Rich on June 24, 2014 at 8:22 am said:

    I see that the lack of fiscal restraint,fiefdoms with the bureaucracies and judicial fiat resemble that a the Achaemenid culture.

  2. R. V. Denby on June 24, 2014 at 9:34 am said:

    Having just read “The Federal Octopus” it occurs to me that certainly a very large percentage of bureaucrats, having no pre-government employment experience, are frightened to death of losing their sinecure. And like their elected associates, they have no idea of the opportunities available to them on the “outside”. This fear alone instructs a powerful incentive to “go along to get along” without meaningful ethical constraint. This is not news of course, it speaks to a century’s-old human “condition”, the currency of which continues to grow at the expense of the classic regard for our “Great American Dream”.

    Articulate criticism of the current bureaucratic bloat, in itself, assures one permanent “work”. The challenge is really to make new again the thrill of opportunity, uniquely available to those of us on the “outside”.

  3. Dan Sheehy on June 24, 2014 at 10:14 am said:

    Obama is carrying out the Cloward-Piven strategy to a degree the inventors of that strategy could only have dreamed of.

  4. Rick Bonsteel on June 24, 2014 at 11:21 am said:

    As a Canadian, I am astounded at the fragility of your vaunted “checks and balances.” I don’t believe that a Canadian PM, theoretically stronger if he or she has a majority government (relatively speaking, of course!), would ever flout the country’s constitution the way Obama does routinely and with seeming impunity.

    • Brian O'Neill on June 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm said:

      As one Canadian to another: look at what Pierre Trudeau did to Canada. It’s exactly what Obama is now trying to do to the U.S. 40 years later. The difference is Canadians didn’t have a constitution to appeal to in the 1970’s, so nobody brought it up.

    • Scott on July 3, 2014 at 5:41 am said:

      Checks and Balances are like one-tumbler locks on front doors.

      When there is lawlessness and a desire to take from others, a simple lock will not stop a criminal with no compunction about breaking a window or smashing a door. Locks only stop honest people from coming into your house.

      When a political individual decides that defeating or destroying her/his opponents is more important than rule of law, she will ignore checks and balances. S/he will take powers that the law denies to her/him.

      This is something that US citizens are grappling with; how to restore respect for the constitutional balances that served us well for the first 110 years of our Republic.

  5. JACKIE on June 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm said:

    This is the Regime ‘transforming America’ I hope everyone that voted for this are the first to get their liberties taken away. They were told

  6. Lynn A. Zaring on June 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm said:

    I submit the title of this article should have been “Federalus Maximus”.

  7. Dear Professor Hanson,

    If James Madison’s Law is “No leader is an angel” plus “Every leader has a devil & angel on his/her shoulder,” then… JM’s idea was to pit the evil of man (i.e. Tragic View, not Therapeutic View) against his own evil, that is when evil makes itself available to mystic tyranny, which is to say… the empowerment leadership gains,

    Hence, the three branches were to each have a “machine gun nest” firing at the other two branches’ similar machine gun nests. The three “machine gun nests” were to fire upon each other’s mystic tyranny, but never to fire upon the people.

    Further, if that were to happen, the separate governments of the states were to shoot their “powerful political machine gun nests” back towards the Federal government.” (In all this, I speak figuratively, not literally.)

    Mark Levin says our Founders made a way to amend the constitution via states calling for a meeting to do so. You have mentioned concerns that mystic tyranny Progtards might highjack such a meeting (as history might indicate) and make things permanently an “Animal Farm” of Monster Raving Loony Permanence.

    Looking at this situation with a wide angle lens, the Right has been pushing back for 30 years against the Left. Both sides say they are right. And it is a crazy Mexican standoff, with nothing happening but more decline.

    So professor Hanson, neither side has tried the James Madison argument, have they? The argument would be, coming from the Right, “Hey, we are no angels. That we recognize this, we agree to limit our (three-branch) powers, as well as the out-of-control Fed agencies. Period.”

    Back in the day, James Madison trusted this argument to be understood by the people. He wrote it, in his own language, in Federalist 51.

    Today, I hear no one in talk radio and no one even in the Tea Party, saying “I AM NO GOD. Elect me, and I will limit my powers and that of the other two branches… while keeping strongly prepared for War… which creates peace… and this is my job, to always know I and the other two branches… are no angels, and power corrupts, etc., etc.

    I’d vote for that. Would it be good to trust others would also? (Because the same-old-same-old is tiresome, and losing our nation through right-left exchanges of angst-that-fails-to-stop-decline.)

  8. Stuart Milligan on June 24, 2014 at 10:45 pm said:

    John Koskinen, solid Democrat and skilled bureaucrat, is the perfect person to do what Obama needs done: to sit before Congress and lie like crazy, never sweating, never wavering.

  9. Mac Echols on June 25, 2014 at 6:26 am said:

    This “transformation” began in earnest with the implementation of the Senior Executive Service during the Carter Administration. Stocked by liberal academia the SES is now a union that looks out only of itself. It’s charter to provide management oversight over civil service employees is laughable in that it uses leftist theory rather than employee EXPERIENCE in its regulatory practices.

  10. The IRS has nothing but scorn for Federal records retention regulations. When it comes to whistleblowers a classic line shouted by a high level IRS executive to three whistleblowers is most telling: “The organization will get you, you whores!” Read about all this in the book by former IRS historian Shelley Davis titled “Unbridled Power.” Then, perhaps, these current scandals won’t be surprising.

  11. buybuydandavis on July 6, 2014 at 4:19 am said:

    “But under President Obama we are seeing something a little different — the creation of a partisan, semi-autonomous government that seems to exist for the benefit of its employees and the larger ideological agenda of the present administration.”

    They’ve been there for decades. The only real difference now is the brazen nature of it. With their own in power, all restraint is gone.

    It’s the coming out party of The Tax Ranchers. Not content to simply herd the Tax Cattle with a show of respect, they’re throwing off the pretenses of being “servants” and showing they’re the masters. They’re showing us the whip, and we’ll take it and like it.

    Because we have. There have been no consequences for these criminals, but long paid vacations on the public dime, and their 15 minutes of fame, where they get to spit in our faces and laugh.

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