May 29, 2010
Enemy of the States
The federal government appears to be becoming more a parasite than a protector to the several states that organized its creation. The state of Louisiana has two enemies at present: One is an immense oil slick, and the other is a federal government doing its utmost to make matters worse. While the oil slick is lifeless (as well as life-choking) and is moved by wind and wave with no course of its own, the federal enemy is willfully obstructionist, uncaringly incompetent, and hopelessly uncoordinated.
The people and government of Louisiana have prepared an emergency plan to protect their marshes and bayous from the floating sludge: a chain of barrier islands made of sand dredged from the shallow bottom of the Gulf. The sand barrier would hold the oil offshore, preventing it from destroying the marshes and wetlands, and allow for a much easier cleanup of the oil by catching it on relatively straight, featureless sandy levies -- as opposed to attempting to clean oil from the labyrinthine bogs, swamps, and marshes of Southern Louisiana's Bayou Parishes.
Alas, bureaucracy and bureaucrats prevent the people from implementing their plan. A permit is required from the Army Corps of Engineers, but the permit must be reviewed and commented on by other government agencies, such as the EPA. Changes to the draft will be required, and approval sought, restarting the process. Meanwhile, after more than eleven days of byzantine bureaucratic fiddling since the plan was submitted by Louisiana, the oil continues to wash ashore, and the State is left to deal with destroyed fisheries, ruined wetlands, and lost jobs. Meanwhile, the bureaucratic square dance continues: Permits and federal training are required to clean up the oil already ashore, and volunteers dare not attempt to clean a bird or amphibian of oil for fear of draconian Federal repercussions. The people of the Sovereign State of Louisiana have a right, and a duty, to protect and defend their homes, their environment, and their livelihoods. Federal incompetence and obstruction are hampering their efforts to do any of those.
The State of Louisiana needs to disregard any and all federal interference at this point. The men and equipment are in place, and Governor Jindal needs to take control of the situation, begin dredging his barrier islands, and begin vacuuming the sludge already ashore. The federal government has no apparent interest in acting with speed to resolve this issue. At the end of the day, the bureaucrats will still have cushy government pensions and pleasant offices in suburban Maryland; they won't have to live with the consequences of their dallying and empire-building like the watermen of Louisiana will. The political opportunists will use a worsening disaster as capital to impede oil exploration efforts, when their very interference forced exploration so far offshore and so deep as to make drilling so difficult and risky. The governor has said he will start the dredging, even if it means going to jail himself. If he really offers leadership like that, there are probably a hundred thousand watermen, shrimpers, fishermen, and assorted bayou boys in Louisiana who would gladly take his place at the Bastille.
The State of Arizona also faces two enemies: The army intruders crossing an unsecured border is one, and the federal government that refuses to secure it is the other. One enemy has many faces, drug running, human trafficking, ruined desert habitats, crime, kidnapping, and national security concerns among them. When the crime and cost resulting from that unsecured border became too grave and the federal government steadfastly refused to do its duty to secure the border and protect the citizens of Arizona, the state rightfully took matters into its own hands. It is now beginning to feel the wrath of the second enemy.
The courts will play out decisions of constitutionality and supremacy of federal law, but the reality on the ground is that a dangerous situation existed, one that threatened the life, liberty, and property of Americans, and something had to be done. Again, the federal government is willfully obstructionist and incompetent when it comes to securing the border. Border patrol agents need to wait for the Parks Service before they can enter the parkland and preserve what makes up the vast majority of the Arizona border area, leaving huge gaps where drugs and people swarm north. Most recently, John Morton, the assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has stated that his agency may not even process illegal immigrants referred by the state of Arizona due to the controversial law, a position backed by Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security.
Few of the political elite have any interest in securing the border; many of them are pandering for votes and voters, and their campaign donors want an inexhaustible supply of cheap labor. Just as in Louisiana, the people on the ground -- the ranchers, business owners, and citizens of Arizona -- will reap the consequences of Federal indifference and irresponsibility.
Louisiana and Arizona are suffering abuses and usurpations at the hand of a distant central government that cares not for the safety and happiness of their people, nor does it care to execute the few inconvenient responsibilities assigned to it in an inconvenient and forgotten Constitution. This is a distant central government indifferent to all matters beyond its own expansion and continued election, a government so engorged that it cannot move with alacrity or decisiveness.
Arizona and Louisiana may find themselves at the spearhead of movements by many states -- states fighting the health care mandate, states fighting federal confiscation and retention of land, states fighting EPA carbon regulation, states grappling with their own immigration problems, states starting to realize that "help" from Washington is anything but helpful, states that may start to realize that taking matters into their own hands may be the only means left for securing the Republic and preserving liberty.
Cicero is the pen name of a military officer.
Cicero is the pen name of a military officer.