Outside The Law
Politics: If our legislative system proves to be an impediment for the radical agendas of policymakers and activists, they should give up. Some, however, are willing to resort to strong-arm tactics.
James Hansen, the NASA scientist primarily responsible for the global warming scare, has grown weary of trying to change the world through the legislative order outlined in our Constitution.
"The democratic process doesn't quite seem to be working," Hansen told the British Guardian newspaper Wednesday. "I think that peaceful demonstration is not out of order, because we're running out of time."
Hansen is sounding much like Al Gore, former vice president and current climate change agitator, who has encouraged young people to engage in "civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration."
Gore's comments, made last September, came two weeks after a British jury acquitted six Greenpeace activists who had been accused of damaging property at a power plant. The jurors felt the "protest" was acceptable because the "protesters" were genuinely afraid that the plant would contribute to climate change.
We wonder if they realize their reluctance to convict the protesters empowered a generation of domestic terrorists who will attack that country's energy production.
Though Hansen said he favors "peaceful actions that attempt to draw society's attention to the issue," there is no shortage of fanatic environmentalists who will read the coded message — as Hansen is hoping — and do something reckless.
Having already torched car dealerships, sabotaged oil and gas wells, ambushed a coal train and trashed power plants, eco-terrorists have demonstrated a disregard for law and a taste for violence.
Hansen would deny he is trying to use mob rule or descend into fascism to effect the societal changes he seeks to curb global warming. But what other alternative does he have?
If he's frustrated with the system and he knows, as he should, that "peaceful demonstrations" will have minimal impact on public policy, he has little choice but to go outside the law.
Meanwhile, the Obama White House has the look of an administration willing to resort to legislative bullying to get its agenda passed in Congress.
Last Wednesday, Bloomberg news reported that the president "may try to push through Congress a health care overhaul, energy proposals and tax increases by using a partisan tactic that would thwart Republican efforts to block the measures."
In other words, this administration is considering marginalizing the opposition and ruling by decree. It leaves the Americans who voted for the Republicans in Congress with no representation.
When the procedure, called reconciliation, is invoked, debate is limited to 20 hours and bills can be rammed through the Senate with a simple majority vote with no filibuster available to protect against the tyranny of that simple majority.
The Bloomberg story attempts to legitimize Obama's use of the procedure, noting that it was also employed during the Bush administration to "muscle tax cuts through the Senate."
But the comparison doesn't hold up. The procedure was used in the Bush years to free Americans from the shackles of state. The current administration would use it to ram through laws that would increase government authority over private lives.
There should be no hurdles to restoring freedom. But when Congress attempts to restrict it, the hurdle should be high, if not impossible to clear. It's chilling to watch as men with authority and influence prefer to instead crash their way through.
The power to tax is the power to destroy, as is the power to regulate and limit choices. These powers should be wielded judiciously, and only within a system that safeguards against excess and demands accountability. The overly ambitious and unelected can't be allowed to govern by walking over the governed.