Quote of the day—Charles Hugh Smith

To get anything done in a culture of entrenched interests, one must either have an overwhelming political mandate to dismantle the entire machine–Trump does not–or you need Insiders who know the pressure points of the system and its key players–in effect, Insiders who know how to slip a political stiletto into the kidneys of key players and twist the blade to get done what would otherwise be impossible.

Charles Hugh Smith
January 18, 2017
Why Outsiders Need Insiders To Get Anything Done
[It sounds plausible.

But I’m not entirely sure I understand why the legislature and president couldn’t just say, “The ATF no longer exists. The FBI will enforce any of the laws that need to be enforced. The FBI may hire up to 10% of those newly unemployed people if they pass the normal selection criteria. ATF Office space and equipment will be reallocated, rented and/or sold during the next 60 days.”

Why would there be a burning need for “insiders” in that sort of situation?—Joe]


18 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Charles Hugh Smith

  1. It would require a president who forcefully asserts that his oath to the Constitution means executing only the laws that are constitutional. And that the oath means that making this judgment is HIS job. In other words, obeying the Constitution does not mean obeying the court precedents. This principle also appears in the phrase “all lawful orders” in military oaths — it implies the duty to make an individual judgment about the lawfulness of each order.
    Fictional president Alexander Hope (in Zelman and Smith’s novel “Hope”) applied this notion. It would be great if a real world president would do so, but I don’t expect to see it happen.

    • “…it implies the duty to make an individual judgment about the lawfulness of each order.”

      Precisely. Unfortunately the words “constitution”, “liberty” and “principles” (or other key words such as “founding”, “originalist” and “original intent”) failed to appear in Trump’s inaugural address. Nor do I recall references thereto in his campaign.

      Whatever it is we’re dealing with in this administration will have to become clear as time progresses. As much as we may like some of the things he’s doing and saying, his overall language is more akin to that of a National Socialist than anything else I can name. Examine it closely, and objectively, and you’ll see what I mean. You could place his rhetoric into early 20th Century Europe, and it would fit rather nicely in there somewhere.

      Beware the “Strongman” who is not guided by the principles of liberty. He may be very exciting and entertaining, and even satisfying at times, but there’s a possible dark side to it all in the end, which can wipe the smiles right off our faces, premanently.

      If there is not “much weeping and gnashing of teeth” among our ranks in four or eight years, we will have dodged a bullet.

      • True. Then again, we have over a century worth of experience with strongmen, presidents guided by no known principle and nothing but contempt for the Constitution. It’s not clear how we have survived that, but so far we have. Perhaps because all of them feared the meaning of the 2nd amendment just enough.

  2. Could government Civil Service employees who don’t serve at the pleasure of the President be terminated in that way? Ninety percent of the BATF out at the decision of the administrative agency’s chief’s chief? At least there wouldn’t be a case for bad firing or discrimination. The firings would be because of termination of function and the resulting reduction in force.

    • The WSJ had an op-ed a few days ago pointing out that, Constitutionally speaking, the entire executive branch serves at the pleasure of the President.

        • Why discouraging? Accountability seems like a good thing. If for some reason the rules should be different, there’s a mechanism for that: amendment.

  3. The most excellent boss I ever had used to say that language could be used like a rapier or like a bludgeon, and that while either might do the job, one way was more elegant in its use than the other.

    Simply standing up to foolishness like a bludgeon to the head saying, as Colonel Black in Catch 22, “Gimme eats!” often works wonders. So does a small rider on a large bill, the rider being the kidney-thrust that disables an entire bureaucratic apparatus. Why not use both?

    • My Product Line Manager when I worked in Aerospace spoke of different managerial styles, and while he used different words, the rapier and bludgeon were two examples, and others were, something like negotiating, asking, and what he termed “Rainbow”, which was someone who could use the various techniques as appropriate. There is no reason, as you say, to not use both, or all the techniques as they seem appropriate and effective.

  4. Simply declaring the ATF to no longer exist would accomplish nothing as all the employees would then revert to the parent organization and be issued new FBI badges. Eliminating the function of the ATF would probably require statutory redefinition of the agencys job description. While an EO forbidding any monies being spent on the execution of the existing duties could stop the duties from being carried out, no one would necessarily lose their job.

    • In my example the legislature contributed to the elimination. And my point was it would seem that no “insiders” would be required to eliminate that agency and those jobs under those conditions.

  5. The BATF must be abolished if ‘ Rule of Law ‘ is to mean anything. ATF was Never approved by congress. it’s a leftover from the declared unconstitutional Federal Alcohol Administration. A TAX collector, merged by ‘ Color of Law ‘ with the IRS.
    Jurisdiction and Standing , if any , is HIGHLY suspect. Only the FIRST SALE of an Imported firearm , is taxable ….. IF the law is followed.
    ATF’s days are numbered, the evidence is clear. …. History at link :


    • I think the A part of BATFE is actually constitutional; the amendment repealing prohibition establishes government authority over alcohol. But the TFE part clearly is outside the limits of Article 1 Section 8, never mind what the 2nd Amendment has to say about it.

  6. Be careful what you wish for. The ATF’s incompetence and ham handed oppression is a feature not a bug. We do not want the FBI with the same jurisdiction. Need to repeal a lot of laws first.

    • All that’s really needed is enforcement of the Constitution. Unfortunately, the Constitution has been continuously violated, without penalty, since the ink on it was barely dry.

  7. And, given that it already looks the part, the ATF HQ could be re-purposed as a prison – to hold all of them convicted under 18 USC s 242, deprivation of rights under color of law…

  8. IRT all bureaucratic agencies, I like the law passéd by congress back in ’95(?) or so that stated something to the effect that all newly issued regulations by regulatory agencies must be justified before congress within a set period of time or they become null and void. The fact that the congressional slugs haven’t bothered to enforce this particular law doesn’t mean they couldn’t/won’t.

    • You may be thinking about the Congressional Review Act. It’s being put into use as we speak.

      It’s not quite as simple as you describe, though. Agencies are required to report on each regulation to Congress. Congress then has 60 days from the arrival of that report to decide whether to reject the regulation, which it can do with a simple majority not subject to veto or filibuster. Also, as I understand it, if there is no report then Congress can also do this — the deadline is the date of the regulation or the date of the report, whichever is later.

      The WSJ discussed this in some detail in the past week or two.

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