Obama's Creepy Agency Creep
President Obama has enlarged and shaped the missions of agencies across the federal government to his own purposes, in pursuit of the "fundamental change" he promised voters. The resulting agency creep is creeping me out.
Totalitarians have a history of recasting representative governments into reflections of their own personal madness. Whether in the case of Communists, Fascists, or modern liberals, day-to-day government is retooled into an incarnation of their dear leader's obsessions and justified by a vain and unsupportable assertion of higher intelligence.
This time is no different, as is demonstrated by the multiple cases of agency creep we are witnessing in the executive branch. We have recently been treated to internationalist game wardens, eco-warrior accountants, interfaith astronauts, and politicking professors. These contradictions indicate the disjointed fit between the nation and President Obama. Why is the US Wildlife and Fisheries raiding Gibson Guitar, the SEC examining hydraulic fracturing fluids, NASA seeking to build bridges with Muslims, and the Department of Education attacking Rick Perry?
Executive branch agencies are created by Congress and governed by commissions or charters. Agency activities should reflect the purpose enunciated at creation and as explicitly and logically amended from time to time. This representative process, whereby an elected Congress creates an agency with a focus and expertise, appears under attack by an Obama administration bent on molding longstanding agencies into the enforcement bureau for the nutty left and its clichéd causes.
For example, the US Fish and Wildlife Service traces its origins to the U.S. Commission on Fish and Fisheries, which was "created by Congress and charged with studying and recommending solutions to the decline in food fishes and to promote fish culture." The Service's strategy was amended and expanded by the Lacey Act, "the first Federal law protecting game, prohibiting the interstate shipment of illegally taken wildlife and importation of species." Under President Obama, Wildlife and Fisheries is now zealously conducting raids on Gibson Guitar, searching for ebony from Madagascar and misapplying laws from India.
Likewise, the Securities and Exchange Commission was established by Congress in 1934 to "regulate the stock market and prevent corporate abuses relating to the offering and sale of securities." Basically, widows and orphans gained a regulatory advocate focused on full and accurate disclosure by companies selling stocks and bonds. Under President Obama, the SEC has gained a task far removed from its experience, competency, or reason for existence. SEC examiners are now fully deputized marshals in the war on hydrocarbons. Despite that hydraulic fracturing is safe, represents a huge advancement in accessing domestic energy sources, and is an obvious font of new jobs, the SEC is targeting oil and gas companies by slowing access to capital through regulatory roadblock.
In a much-reported event, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration revealed that its "foremost" mission is to improve relations with the Muslim world. Note the complete and obvious lack of intersection between the words "aeronautics/space" and "Islam/outreach." Nonetheless, President Obama decided that such outreach logically followed the space shuttle, Hubble, Rover, and space station successes. In a more recent drift from core competencies, NASA chief Charles Bolden played politics by steering the shuttle museum decision away from Republican-dominated Houston, home of the shuttle program and most of its astronauts.
Finally, we come to Arne Duncan, the secretary of education. He runs the Department of Education, which was established by Congress in 1980 and formed to "promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access." Under President Obama, Secretary Duncan has had his focus redirected from the kids to the president's political opponents. Mr. Duncan recently attacked the Texas school system under governor Rick Perry, claiming it "has really struggled" and "far too few of their high school graduates are actually prepared to go on to college" -- this despite facts and test results that contradict the claim. It is unclear how an unsubstantiated smear campaign comports with promoting student achievement, fostering excellence, or ensuring access, but amply clear how such a smear might benefit Mr. Obama in 2012.
These new activities are irrelevant to each agency's stated goals, mismatched to each agency's core competencies, and completely disconnected with each agency's reason to be. The activities are also arguably a breach of the separation of powers, with the president undoing, or at least diluting, the intent of Congress. Wildlife and Fisheries, the SEC, NASA, and the Department of Education are engaged in simultaneous, intentional, and serious cases of strategy creep that can only divert resources and focus away from their legitimate mandates.
These are just a few examples. Others abound. Consider that the EPA has strayed into map-remaking with its new "navigable waters" standard, the IRS is Obamacare's bouncer, the formerly domestic ATF now has the ability to instigate hostilities on foreign soil through operations like Fast and Furious, and Health and Human Services is funding abortions.
These agencies are operating under the direction of the president. Ashe, Shapiro, Bolden, and Duncan did not just randomly and simultaneously decide to veer off course. Such career-limiting moves are unheard of from lifelong bureaucrats, absent direction. These seemingly random datapoints clearly represent Obama, the man and the ideology, and are planned. When one considers the forethought and effort required to identify each agency's available means to execute Obama madness, the president's ideological intensity and extreme ambition come into frightening focus.
Multipronged ideological assaults of this sort are nothing new. Mussolini's "Battle of the Grain" subsidized grain program and "Battle for Land" land reclamation program were both seemingly necessary and random, but in hindsight were a deliberate corporative phase targeting control of employment. Il Duce then formed the Industrial Reconstruction Institute to take control of bank holding companies, giving the state the largest industrial sector in Europe.
Germans called this smothering by bureaucracy gleichschaltung, which translates literally as coordination but more precisely means subordinating independent institutions to state authority. The targets of such gleichschaltung can be ranked by value and likely resistance, meaning the totalitarian seeks out cash flow and intransigents.
Like il Duce and der Führer before, the One has embraced gleichschaltung. The president's version seems to repeatedly affect successful businesses, serious Christians, oil and gas companies, coal companies, and Texas.
The mandates of Wildlife and Fisheries, the SEC, NASA, the Department of Education, the EPA, the IRS, the ATF, and HHS are mandates that elected representatives deemed societally worthy. As such, these agencies' new Obama-instigated activities represent a trade of the democratically chosen common goal for the Obama personal goal. Such a trade is selfish and characteristic of one who elevates his personal mania above the interests of those he should represent.
The president's now ample comments already indicate that he represents some of us more than others, and the mere fact that these new initiatives would not survive a legislative hearing is a sufficient indicator of their lack of representative merit. Such hyper-personal backroom governance is the antithesis of democracy. It is installment plan dictatorship by way of bureaucracy, one crazy misdirected program at a time.