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Congress: A Modern "Diet of Worms"

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By Edward Cline from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog

Revisiting after a long absence Victor Hugo's verse play, Cromwell (1827), which was the opening shot against the tyranny of classicism in literature (the riot against the staging of his play, Hernani, occurred three years later), I encountered these lines:

"They're willing to be crushed and wronged,

But by a Lord Protector, not a king.

As a plebeian tyrant, he was safe."


"That when a yoke bends Liberty's bold brow

A tyrant is less burdensome when small."

I have insisted for decades that when tyranny, or a dictatorship, arrived in America, it would not announce itself with anything so obvious as gangs of brown shirted thugs roaming the streets or mass deportations of dissenters, rebels, and recalcitrants to "reeducation camps." Instead, tyranny, if not identified and opposed, would insinuate itself into American life in subtle, sly accretions which would, among other things, allow Americans time to inure themselves to it - after they had been persuaded it was for their own good.

From the time I first became conscious of politics and its effects on my personal life and the life of the nation, I observed an increasing multitude of statist phenomena daily, weekly, and yearly close in on the nation in a creeping, poisonous fog of death. That fog now envelopes the nation and threatens to suffocate the last of our liberties, one of which is the right to speak out against the perpetuation of our servitude or indenture.

For example, what has not yet arrested the attention of most of our clueless and ambivalent news media is Section 220 of the lobbying reform bill now sitting in the Senate, which would require "grassroots" organizations, bloggers, and individuals who communicate with 500 or more subscribers over the Internet (whether or not they are paying subscribers) to register and report quarterly to Congress, with penalties imposed for failing to register.

The bill has not alarmed most members of the news media, many of them with their own websites, for with very few exceptions, they uncritically (dare I say, religiously?) report government decisions, policies, and findings as though these were commandments of Moses.

The question to ask about this bill is: Why? What is its purpose? What could be the point of conceiving such an intrusive law - unless it was a cowardly move in the direction of censorship, and the censoring of thoughts and words that are feared? Is Congress setting itself up as an American Lord Chamberlain, that is, as a censor? Will the participants of a registered blog or organization or chat room be left "free" to say whatever they wish, so long as they agree with the Congressional consensus of the moment or don't question that consensus in any important way?

And if the manqués charged with monitoring a registered blog, organization or chat room detect "threatening" or "treasonous" discussion and report it to Congress, will action be taken against those making the statements, such as a federal investigation, punitive tax treatment, or even imprisonment? Or will they merely be put on notice to "clean up their act" - or else?

Will blogs, organizations, chat rooms and discussion lists that refuse to register their existence with Congress - citing First Amendment protections, which include not only freedom of speech, but the right to peaceably assemble - be declared "outlaws," and consequently risk physical compulsion by a Congressional counterpart of the DEA, INS or ATF, a gang of goons responsible for policing "illegal" or "unregulated" speech?

Watching Congress now as it works itself up into a lather to "get Bush" over the Iraq war and for simply not agreeing with the Democrats' collectivist agenda - and I am no fan of George Bush - I was torn between two very appropriate nicknames for that less than august body: "Creature Feature," after the name of an old late night television program that ran monster movies; and "A Diet of Worms," after the congress of religious and political authorities called in 1521 in the town of Worms in Germany to decide the orthodoxy or heresy of Martin Luther. When Luther - also no favorite of mine - refused to recant his position, the Diet declared him a heretic and an "outlaw" and he was forced to go into hiding.

I have come down on the side of historical precedent: Congress is indeed a modern Diet of Worms - even though many in Congress are monsters, such as Dorian Grayish Senator Ted Kennedy - the "worms" being every member of Congress, Republican, Democrat, and middle-of-the-roader.

Why worms? While the U.S. is at present threatened within and without by Islamic conquest - by Iran with its growing nuclear threat, by a fifth column of sleeper cells and sleep-walking jihadists now in this country and who willy-nilly attack shopping malls and synagogues and even individuals - what is Congress proposing in answer to President Bush's disastrous "war on terror"?

Basically, to cut and run. In a year, or two years, it matters little. Instead of proposing that Bush eliminate Iran's capacity to strike at the U.S., instead of proposing that the FBI root out every Islamic enemy agent in this country, even if it meant closing down mosques and deporting the principals of organizations like CAIR or at least charging them with sedition - Congress is obsessed with obstructing Bush.

Such is the measure of its obsessional malice - or is it a psychosis? - that Congress is willing to jeopardize the security of this country to execute a repressed vendetta. Neither Harry Reid nor Nancy Pelosi nor John Murtha nor John McCain has asked Bush the question in Congress: "Why didn't you ask us for a declaration of war? Because, Mr. President, we are indeed at war." If Congress wants to find fault with Bush's policies, that is what it should be focused on, his unconscionable adventure in altruism to spread "democracy" to Islamic pestholes.

But Bush and Iraq do not monopolize Congress's obsession. The worms of our political oligarchy - and it is indeed an oligarchy of contemptible plebeians, supported and sustained by confiscatory taxes - also wish to "do good" by imposing more controls on the country and its citizens.

Its latest bugbear is "global warming." There has been enough rational, objective discussion of the hoax of the threat of global warming and its alleged attribution to man's "sin" of living on earth (e.g., "Global Hot Air," Thomas Sowell's excellent commentary) that I waive remarks on it here. But one paragraph in Nick Provenzo's commentary on Rule of Reason, "McCain and Lieberman: the Smoot & Hawley of our generation," tickled my memory:

"OK, let me get this straight: McCain and Lieberman want to pass a law to let the
free market
forestall the alleged threat of global warming....But that is not what their bill actually does. McCain and Lieberman's bill arbitrarily caps off American CO2 emissions at 2000 levels, forces companies to buy and sell the right to emit CO2 into the atmosphere, and treble fines those that exceed their emission caps. This isn't the 'free market'; it is the antithesis of the free market."

One could dwell here on the observation that the entire population of the U.S. probably exhales more CO2 per minute than the whole industrial capacity of the country does in one year. What tickled my memory was Ayn Rand's description of the creation of a new species Washington lobbyist as a consequence of Mr. Thompson's Directive 10-289 (which "froze" the country's economic life) in Atlas Shrugged: the "defreezers," who, for a fee, bought and sold permissions and exemptions for their "clients."

Of course, an altruist/collectivist measure such as Directive 10-289 or the McCain/Lieberman bill will always contain a loophole or two, the better to perpetuate the guilt of the victims and the corruption of the controllers: the only industries that will be able to take advantage of those CO2 emission permits will be those with political pull. Need I say more? Rand had these worms nailed over half a century ago.

One more obsession: Smoking and tobacco. On February 16th, the Wilmington Star (North Carolina) reported, under the headline "Congressional bill would let FDA regulate tobacco."

"A bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced legislation Thursday that would give the FDA the same authority over cigarettes and other tobacco products that it already has over countless other consumer products."

The bill, called the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, according to the article, was introduced by Senators Dorian Gray - excuse me, Ted Kennedy - John Cornyn of Texas, Henry Waxman of California, and Tom Davis of Virginia. Kennedy said, "Congress cannot in good conscience allow the federal agency most responsible for protecting the public health to remain powerless to deal with the enormous risk of tobacco, the most deadly of all consumer products."

The "most deadly of all consumer products"? Last week it was sugar. And before that, trans fats. And before that, cholesterol. And before that, polluting SUV's. And before that...? The list of the consumer products deemed "most dangerous" extends back decades and is complemented by thousands of pages of federal legislation. The products are indeed virtually "countless," and account for all the mandated warning, nutritional, and ingredient labels one sees on them.

Was this a slip of Kennedy's obscene tongue? No. If one wishes to understand why collectivist "lord protectors" such as Kennedy, Waxman, the Clintons, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid et al. never cease concocting ways to govern the lives of Americans and proposing that Americans foot the bill for diminishing their liberties, one must note that Kennedy expressed the quintessential premise of all such worms, that reality is dangerous - especially man-made reality - and only they know how to protect everyone from everything: by government force.

Our Congressional "worms," like any other parasite, will attach themselves to any human value and feed on it to sustain their existence until that value perishes, then find another "host." They have been sucking the life out of American freedom for a century and a half in the name of the "public health" or the "greater good" or other collectivist mantras. Altruism/collectivism is the only morality they wish to know, and force the only power they wish to exercise.

The Islamists are not the only power-lusting creatures who wish to subjugate Americans. While the principals of CAIR and the Muslim-American Council hope to someday to replace the Constitution with the Koran as the law of the land, I do not believe there is a single member of Congress who would object to replacing our adulterated and abridged Constitution with a socialist or communist manifesto. These small, safe, plebeian worms are in a state of denial about the war being waged against the U.S. and the West.

They are not interested in vanquishing this country's enemies; they wish to vanquish America. They are beyond moral redemption and so far removed from the founding principles of this country -- and from the moral and intellectual stature of its Founders - that they are fit only for satire.

From their perspective, we are the worms, they own us, and we can be "crushed and wronged" without limit, consequence, or fear of retribution. It was a presumption that men rejected over two hundred and fifty years ago when they decided they had had enough of their small and burdensome tyrants, and threw off the yokes and shackles from their minds, necks and ankles. Will Americans ever again find the pride and moral mettle to emulate their forefathers?

I ask it now before I can be punished for posing the question, and this site closed down for having dared broadcast it.


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