Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Draining The Swamp

This morning Scott Johnson at Powerline linked to a review of Unmasking the Administrative State: The Crisis of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century, by John Marini. The review is by Michael Anton, Draining the Swamp:

Michael Anton (born 1970) is an American former senior national security official in the Trump administration. He is best known for his pseudonymous essays written during the 2016 presidential campaign in which he supported Donald Trump and collaborated on the pro-Trump Journal of American Greatness blog. Anton was named Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategic Communications on the United States National Security Council. [Read More]

It's a long review, and one that may begin a bit slowly for those who aren't up on political philosophy, but it's hard to praise it enough for the insights into, well, The Crisis of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century. In other words, the big picture of what the Russia Hoax is really all about and how it relates to American history--and America's future. I highly recommend Anton's review for its portrayal of the Russia Hoax and the monumental effort by the Deep State to reject Trump like an invasive foreign body. In particular, his application of Marini's thinking to a comparison between Nixon/Watergate and Trump/Russia Hoax is fascinating. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. Here are some snippets:

In perhaps the book’s most extraordinary chapter, Marini illustrates his point with a wholly new (at least to my eyes) interpretation of Watergate. In his account, Watergate was indeed—as conventional wisdom insists—the most serious constitutional crisis in our history (so far), but not for the reasons usually assumed. Richard Nixon’s real sin was not abuse of power but his serious constitutional challenge to the administrative state. 


... Eight years as vice president and four as president had demonstrated beyond doubt to Nixon that the bureaucracy runs the government for its own purposes, without the consent of the people. ...

* * *

... Congress by this point had completed the transformation of itself “from primarily a legislative body to an administrative oversight body.” It saw, counterintuitively but correctly, Nixon’s threat to curtail the power of executive branch agencies as a threat to its own power, to its own new role in the administrative regime.

Granted, Nixon foolishly handed his enemies the gun with which to shoot him. But, for Marini, that was mere pretense:

Nearly every political scandal in American politics has been transformed into a legal one in order to expose and reveal guilt as violation of law. It is fought out in the public, or political arena, on legal grounds to establish culpability, again with reference to the law. If successful, it is justified as upholding the rule of law. Although it provides clarity in terms of simplifying the issues in a manner suitable for presentation to a mass public, it often obscures the deeper, or more fundamental, problems that give rise to the necessity of political scandal.

The parallels to today are obvious. President Trump has not handed his administrative state enemies the gun with which to shoot him, but no matter; they have 3-D printers and so made their own: the ridiculous “dossier” and the “collusion” narrative that 18 months, dozens of prosecutors and investigators, and $25 million have not been able to substantiate in any way. The same agencies that leaked to take down Nixon are leaking to take down Trump, and for the same reason. As Marini puts it:

Watergate was not a partisan affair in the ordinary sense, nor was it simply a legal controversy. Rather, it was an institutional struggle between the political branches of government. Such an event could not but be political.

And, more ominously:

Republican presidents, at times representing national majorities opposed to the expansion of government, and Democratic Congresses organized around private interests in support of its expansion, became rival forces to an extent incompatible with the pursuit of a long-term public interest.

Except this time it’s worse. The conspiracy to unseat the president began before he was even elected; the pretense was made up out of whole cloth; the agencies aren’t bothering to conceal or dress up their agenda; and the tidal wave of misinformation utterly shameless despite the transparent phoniness of it. ...

* * *

Even more disgraceful, though, are the former “conservatives” egging all this on. As the ever insouciant, newly woke Bill Kristol tweeted: “If it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.” No clearer evisceration of principle, self-righteously announced in the name of principle, could be imagined. ...

.... Marini explains the essential convergence of “Right” and Left under historicist philosophy and administrative state rule:

[B]oth parties have participated in recognizing the legitimacy of the cultural narrative established by postmodern theory—and enforced by political correctness—as the ground of understanding civil society, public policy, law, and bureaucracy itself. Before the end of the twentieth century, contemporary politics had created an equilibrium agreed on by both parties and underwritten by the intellectual authority of positivism and historicism.

In other words, Trump’s voters saw intuitively what the entire political class missed. And they wanted a choice, not an echo.


  1. Very few people (regular voters) have the intellectual capacity to understand or interpret Marini's prose or relate to his arguments. He is too Ivory Tower and consequently speaks to a very small audience, hence has little real impact. It is much more useful to speak plainly and simply.

    Ordinary people who relocate to DC and endlessly participate in government will eventually be seduced into serious criminality by the exercise of unrestrained power. The Russia Hoax is the story of dozens of powerful men and women who conspired to commit sedition and treason in order to enrich themselves and retain the perks of power. In many ways, they are no different than the Chavez/Maduro clan that wrecked Venezuela and impoverished it's people. They all become closet tyrants, and if they are not stopped, they will force this country into a second Civil War. That is no trivial thing.

    1. Sorry, my undergrad major was philosophy--I get off on this stuff. For me it's useful to understand the dynamics of how all this works.

  2. Mr. Wauck,

    Thank you for posting this article. I took two electives in college regarding administrative law. The subject fascinated me, once I could wrap my mind around it. The administrative state is known as “the fourth branch of government.” I learned that the administrative state promulgates, interprets and adjudicates the law, although courts have review power over the administrative state. The Chevron case does undermine judicial review.

    To some degree it is understandable that the situation has developed this way. The current way bills are developed in Congress, they are big enough and to add regulatory minutia would make them even more gargantuan than they already are. A root cause of this problem is that we have too many laws. We are no longer the land of the free. We are the land of the regulated.

    The federal and state governments are in way too much control of The Peoples’ lives. The federal government has no business in local school districts, to cite just one example. No government has business interfering in parental rights short of child abuse. A parent spanking his child is not child abuse. And schools have no business monitoring children’s lunches.

    These bureaucracies are too big and I have seen that they think that Congress and the President work for them, and not vice versa. To be precise, I should say that they work for The American People. I am a federal employee and I have seen and heard senior executives tell us that we should resist President Trump. I was not paying too much attention to one when he said this. If I had, I would’ve filed a complaint. Another one asked a cabinet level official in a town hall meeting to resist the President’s authority if he restored the ban on transgender people serving in the military. A member of the LGBT community at our work asked in a public blog if President Trump the agency would ignore the President if he rolled back protections for the LGBT community. The deputy director stated in writing, that he would. This is incredible.

    Like you, I don’t always agree with Sundance. But I do agree with his characterization of Democrats and Republicans as the “Uniparty.” Paul Ryan slow walked Devon Nunes’ brave investigation into the Russian Hoax. Ryan also did a lot to ensure the wall didn’t get built on his watch.

    I support term limits. Many of the politicians come in with good intentions and get swept up in the power, perks, money, women, etc. They betray core principles like the pro-life cause, gun rights and other rights guaranteed to us. I was a Republican until about 2006 when the party had the presidency and both houses of Congress. They spent like drunken sailors and I realized that we are being played. The media are also corrupt.

    The big question that separates the boys from the men is where do the rights of men originate? If they come from our Creator, they are immutable and can’t be taken away. If they come from men, than we really don’t have any.

    1. Thanks, Joe. I took a course in Admin Law in law school--it's crucial to understanding how we got where we are and how things work. Everything else you said flows from that, even regarding Congress. People have to understand that Congress has surrendered its proper role to the Admin State, which is part of what helped create the Uniparty.