Monday, January 29, 2007

One Man's "Good Government" Is Another Man's "Creeping Feeling of Dread"

This is one for the "Fascism" tag over at Points of Note. It's from a NYT article titled "Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation."

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.
The White House said the executive order was not meant to rein in any one agency. But business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

This, on the other hand, is a handy definition from Wikipedia:

Commissar is the English transliteration of an official title (комисса́р) used in Russia after the Bolshevik revolution and in the Soviet Union, as well as some other Communist countries.

It is used to distinguish the title from similar titles in a variety of languages (such as commissaire in French or kommissar in German), which are usually translated into English as commissioner.

In Russia, the title was associated with a number of administrative and military functions in the Bolshevik forces during the Russian Civil War and the Soviet government afterwards. During the war, the White Army widely used the collective term bolsheviks and commissars for their opponents.

There were two well established titles: People's Commissar (government) and political commissar (military).

The term derives from a similar term in French to describe the equivalent of the rank of Major both in the army of the ancien regime and the French revolution. Such officials were not military officers but reported back to the political authorities: the king and the National Assembly, respectively. It is the use by the French revolutionary government which gave the idea to the Russian one.

Let's avoid the fine points about exactly which horrible phase in human history this reminds us of the most, or if it's some brand new variation of brazen political power-grabbing. I hope we all can agree that this largely-under-the-radar move is six different kinds of messed up.

1 comment:

PoN said...


Good points Tim. The president's use of "signing statements" to ignore or change the implementation of laws passed by Congress is a complementary abuse of power.

I saw from your comment on PON that your RSS feed cleverly captured my fanatical rant before I took it down for editing. I will reply to your comment, but I have neither your intellectual fortitude nor rapier wit, and so I must rest before continuing our conversation further. BTW, excellent points, and as usual I appreciate you reigning me in from the wild-eyed fringe of libertarianism (its just so sexy!)