Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Oldest Trick Redux

     During the confirmation hearings over then-Justice-nominee Brett Kavanaugh, I wrote this:

     One unverifiable allegation of misconduct from a dubious source hasn’t been enough to sink the Kavanaugh nomination. However, it was enough to delay proceedings, temporarily keeping Kavanaugh off the Court. The Democrats consider that a sufficient success to be worth repeating the tactic. And why shouldn’t they? Delay sufficiently prolonged is indistinguishable from defeat.

     Once again, the late, undervalued though immeasurably insightful C. Northcote Parkinson is on the case:

     The theory of ND [Negation by Delay] depends upon establishing a rough idea of what amount of delay will equal negation. If we suppose that a drowning man calls for help, evoking the reply ‘in due course,’ a judicious pause of five minutes may constitute, for all practical purposes, a negative response. Why? Because the delay is greater than the non-swimmer’s expectation of life....Delays are thus deliberately designed as a form of denial and are extended to cover the life-expectation of the person whose proposal is being pigeon-holed. Delay is the deadliest form of denial.

     As regards Judge Brett Kavanaugh, endless delay would be the Democrats’ grand prize, effectively preventing his nomination from ever receiving a vote. However, they can’t rely upon any single stroke toward delaying the vote as “conclusive.” They must mount a barrage of nebulous accusations, each of which can “justify” demands for further investigation, negotiations over the terms of testimony, and the like. This will ensure that when the steam has bled out of the current “controversy” there are other shots in the magazine, ready to be fired.

     It really is the oldest trick in the book. Don’t say “no,” outright; that sounds stubborn, unpleasant. Say “Just wait a minute,” and keep saying it until your adversary throws up his hands and walks away. Then you can claim the field by default.

     It’s shocking how many people have to be told that, rather than grasping it intuitively. But “the trick” is so widely applicable that it can crop up almost anywhere.

     Have a little more “denial by delay:”

     Josilyn Goodall is suing the Worcester School Committee, Superintendent Maureen Binienda, and the state Department of Children and Families after police entered her home, handcuffed her, and arrested her over what amounted to a paperwork dispute.

     According to the lawsuit, Goodall is seeking unspecified compensatory damages for the violation of her Constitutional rights and for the “mental pain and suffering” inflicted upon her and her son.

     The lawsuit details Goodall’s multiple attempts to contact the Superintendent after filing paperwork in January saying she was going to homeschool her son. She said she never got a response to any of her phone calls or emails.

     In Massachusetts, parents who wish to homeschool their children must submit an education plan to the superintendent of the local school system for approval. However, according to Care and Protection of Charles (1987), the court case upon which homeschool legal precedent was established, the burden of proof is on the school to show that the homeschool program is insufficient.

     The lawsuit further alleges that the Worcester School Committee’s homeschool policy is unlawful, in that it requires students to continue attending public school until the education plan is approved. Charles allows for homeschooling to begin as soon as the plan has been submitted.

     [Emphases added by FWP.]

     State educrats are unanimously hostile to homeschooling, and not just in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts. Money and power are involved, and no one in any bureaucracy lets those things slip away without a fight. But the relevant court decisions, especially Pierce v. Society of Sisters, affirm the right of parents to determine who shall educate their children, regardless of educrats’ contentions to the contrary.

     So Massachusetts’ educrats adopted delaying tactics to prevent Josilyn Goodall from exercising her right to homeschool her son. They simply declined to issue the legally required approval or disapproval of her submitted education plan. Then they invoked one of the State’s most ominous weapons – intimidation by cop – to attempt to frighten Miss Goodall into returning her son to their “care.”

     What’s most angering about this case is how unlikely it is that any individual in the Massachusetts educracy will suffer even the slightest penalty for such terror tactics. That’s in the nature of delay as a form of denial. Those who practice that tactic can always plead that “we were overloaded and hadn’t managed to get to it yet” as an exculpation of their blatant malice.

     The Left is big on denial by delay, and getting bigger by the second.

     I have a good friend, an entirely respectable fellow who owns and operates a successful construction firm, who applied for a handgun permit more than three years ago. He hasn’t heard a single word from the police bureau responsible for acting on such applications over that period. At this point he’s ceased to expect that he ever will.

     New York State is hostile to the private ownership of weapons, as anyone familiar with our firearms laws will attest. But there’s that nasty Second Amendment to cope with, so the police can’t simply refuse a permit application. Neither can they arbitrarily reject one without giving a reason. So they practice denial by delay. Apparently there’s no countermeasure.

     Moreover, he who naively applies for a handgun permit here on Long Island will be told to expect a long delay. The delay usually cited to a new applicant is “at least eight months.” Why “eight months?” The “at least” part really means “you could be in the grave before we decide on your application,” so why bother to cite any particular interval at all?

     Without the permit, a New Yorker who dares to acquire a handgun is immediately a felon, regardless of what he might then do with it. Even keeping it locked in a safe in his home would be illegal under New York State law. Using it to defend himself or his spouse against an intruder would expose him to even worse legal hazards.

     Now read this story about a fearful young mother and the off-duty cop who aided her. That heartwarming encounter couldn’t happen in New York...but the home invasion that young mother feared is getting more commonplace every day.

     Ultimately the problem is one of accountability. Governments have many techniques by which to shield the individuals they employ from being held accountable for their misfeasances, their nonfeasances, and their malfeasances. As long as those techniques protect the guilty, denial by delay, along with many other specimens of government misbehavior, will flourish.

     What, then, must we do? I have no answers on this 363rd day of 2018. Do you?

1 comment:

Col. B. Bunny said...

There was a time long ago when I just assumed that government officials were committed to even-handed performance of their duties according to the plain letter of the law. Now at the opposite end of the relevant spectrum, I look at American government as a thing apart from the putative sovereign people, with the possible exception of local government which, even then, is constrained by astonishing state and federal law.

Nation- and civilization-destroying decisions are taken by the political class that positively hates people, nation, and civilization. No citizen should henceforth automatically assume decent or rational basis for government decisions but rather should internalize a resolute skepticism regarding all official acts. Decent officials can still be recognized individually but the superstructure is rotten to the core. Medieval kings had more concern for their subjects than this "curious crew" that we have pulling the levers of power here and now.

Whatever else we should do, it is imperative that we first withdraw our consent and cheerful, automatic cooperation. Government must henceforth justify its actions and inaction ten times over before cooperation is grudgingly extended. Citizens need to find every opportunity there is for delay and re-examination of all assumptions. The starting point for any and all matters of public concern must be, at a minimum, that the state is our enemy. Now THAT is a proposition that our Propositional Nation can safely embrace.