Saturday, May 5, 2018

Concealments And Disclosures

     Among the most important skills a schemer must acquire is that of keeping his agenda to himself, even as he strives to implement it. Yet there will come a time when he can disclose it to the public...indeed, when he must, lest he lose his base of support.

     The typical politician is an inept schemer. They don’t usually manage to do more than hold onto their offices. This is in part because of the counterbalance provided by counter-schemers, but in at least equal measure it’s because the typical politician has a hard time keeping his mouth shut.

     Politicians love to brag. They especially love to brag about “what I’ll do for you.” That’s among their greatest vulnerabilities. When the “what I’ll do” involves undertakings that are plainly against the Constitution, you’d think it would be a simple matter to pull them down. Though it has not recently been so, they still strive to be cagey about their less savory aims. Those who can conceal their intentions until the time is right are the dangerous ones.

     At this time the right to keep and bear arms is front and center in the national discourse. A couple of garish mass shootings have elevated the temperature of debate well above its usual level. As usual the Left is screaming about “safety” and “protecting the children.” Sadly, as usual the Right is responding with weak-water utilitarian arguments that “gun control” doesn’t improve public safety. We seldom hear the robust Constitutional argument that the right is guaranteed by the Second Amendment, so take it to the states or shut up.

     The responses from high-profile Republicans to Democrats’ caterwauling about “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines” have been so dispirited that some on the Left have decided that it’s time to drop all their nonsense about “reasonable restrictions” and go for the jugular. The bill from Eric Swalwell cited in the video below is evidence to that effect. While it’s unlikely to be approved by the House of Representatives, what effect it will have on the national discourse must still be determined.

     The Trump Administration’s approval for the expansion of offshore drilling along America’s coasts has enraged the environmentalist Left and has energized many politicians eager to win the eco-Nazis’ affections. One such is New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo:

     Gov. Cuomo vowed on Friday to “lead a citizen fleet” to stop oil and gas drilling off New York’s coast as he proposed a new state law to ban the practice.

     “I’m going to commission the citizen fleet from throughout the state to go out and interfere with their federal effort just as Winston Churchill did in Dunkirk,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Battery Park overlooking New York harbor. “If you think I’m kidding, I’m not, and I’m going to lead that citizen fleet.”

     Cuomo, who is facing a Democratic primary challenge from left-leaning Cynthia Nixon, challenged the GOP-led state Senate to help enact his proposed ban. Seven GOP senators represent the coastal communities of Long Island.

     Pure political grandstanding. Cuomo isn’t so stupid that he’s unaware that such a “fleet” would be unlawful, and that a company with a valid federal lease could legitimately invoke the offices of the Coast Guard to counter it. Indeed, the Coast Guard could arrest the leaders and organizers, and haul them up on charges under the RICO Act.

     The disclosure here is a tawdry one: there is no conceivable state-level argument against offshore petrochemical exploration or exploitation. State governments have no jurisdiction over such leases. Cuomo pushed for a ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York, where the jurisdiction of the state government went unchallenged. He can’t do that with offshore drilling, which is a federally licensed and regulated matter. But he senses that the Democrat base that elected him governor is moving leftward, and he’s desperate to preserve both his current office and his prospects for a presidential campaign. That cat is now out of the bag, and cannot be forced back in.

     Prominent demagogues often select their ostensible agendas because they already have a significant following. Consider in this light the current foofaurauw over the “Stormy Daniels” matter.

     When we look at the facts of this affair, it appears trivial at most. A rich man known to be something of a womanizer is being accused of having had an affair with a porn star and then paying her to remain silent about it. Is this a crime? No, not at all. Well, is it a component in a divorce action? No, it’s being used to taint the President of the United States, even though it occurred – if it occurred – ten years before he was elected to his office. Moreover, it was the pretext under which the FBI, of all agencies, violated the president’s attorney-client privilege by raiding the home and office of his personal attorney.

     This is a disclosure of real significance, and not because of whatever the FBI might have found in Michael Cohen’s professional papers.

     There is no limit which President Trump’s enemies will respect in their efforts to nullify his election to the White House. Moreover, those enemies have colonized and conquered the FBI and the larger Department of Justice, among other organs of the “Deep State.” They feel perfectly comfortable about using these nominally law-enforcement agencies to commit unlawful acts in furtherance of their campaign. All the pretenses about “election rigging,” “Russian interference,” and “campaign collusion” have been dropped. The one and only agenda is to get Trump.

     I am reminded of Harry Reid and his “Romney didn’t get elected” disclosure. The mindset is the same.

     “Show me the way the crowd is moving and I will lead them.” – Political mantra, originator unknown
     Nothing can be proposed so wild or so absurd as not to find a party, and often a very large party, to espouse it. – Reverend Richard Cecil
     It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which masses of men exhibit their tyranny. – James Fenimore Cooper

     There are many stories about technologies that can force telepathic ingress upon a target, such that that target’s innermost convictions and ambitions could be revealed. I’d imagine most Gentle Readers would condemn such developments. I would...unless they could somehow be restricted to use upon politicians and similar demagogues.

     Demagogic appeals to the masses, when founded upon lies, can be as dangerous as any physical weapon. That the demagogue himself knows better doesn’t improve matters in the slightest. The divisions carved into the body politic are just as harmful.

     The question for this morning is how to counter them. Recourse to facts and reason has seldom been sufficient. A mass in motion possesses momentum; it takes an equal but opposite momentum to halt it. This is as difficult for political masses as for physical objects.

     But revealing the low, self-serving aims of the demagogue, and the contempt he feels for those he seeks to mobilize, might do the trick – if that can be accomplished while disclosing his aim is premature, and before he sets that mass in motion.

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