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Archive for June 19th, 2010|Daily archive page

LOVING LESS, HATING MORE

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Uncategorized on June 19, 2010 at 10:51 am

In his play, Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare has Marcus Brutus justify his participation in the assassination of his longtime friend with the following words: “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”

President Barack Obama’s Republican critics could have said something very similar during their criticism of him for setting up a $20 billion escrow account to compensate victims of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:

That they opposed the President “not because I love the oil industry less, but because I hate President Obama more.”

On June 17, Congressman Joseph Barton offered a badly-timed apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward.

“I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is–again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown,” Barton, a Texas Republican, said. “So I apologize.”

Barton was apologizing for an announcement made by President Obama on June 16. After meeting with the President at the White House, BP’s leaders had agreed to set up a $20 billion escrow account to–in Obama’s words–“provide substantial assurance that the claims people and businesses have will be honored.”

Barton said he was “ashamed” of what had happened at the White House and called it a “tragedy of the first proportion” that a private company would be subjected to a “$20 billion shakedown” that’s really a government “slush fund.” Barton said it was unprecedented and illegal.

Barton has received $100,470 in campaign donations from oil and gas interests since the beginning of 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The same group reported that since 1990, the oil and gas industries have given more than $1.4 million to Barton’s campaigns–the most of any House member during that period.

Barton is scheduled to become the Republican Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is supposed to oversee the actions of energy companies.

Nor was Barton the only Republican to condemn the President rather than Gulf-polluting BP. Congressman Tom Price of Georgia attacked the escrow account as an example of Obama’s “Chicago-style shakedown politics.”

“These actions are emblematic of a politicization of our economy that has been borne out of this administration’s drive for greater power and control,” Price charged.

Yet another Republican, Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, criticized the BP disaster fund even before it was announced. Bachmann–who has repeatedly damned Obama as a socialist–called it a “redistribution-of-wealth fund” during a Heritage Foundation luncheon in Washington.

Bachmann told The Washington Post: “If I was the head of BP, I would let the signal get out there–‘We’re not going to be chumps, and we’re not going to be fleeced.’ And they shouldn’t be.

“They shouldn’t have to be fleeced and made chumps to have to pay for perpetual unemployment and all the rest–they’ve got to be legitimate claims.”

Bachmann also accused the president of demonizing BP. “He makes them evil, and what we’ve got to ask ourselves is: Do we really want to be paying $9 for a gallon of gas? Because that could be the final result of this,” she said.

Bachmann made these comments 57 days after BP’s shattered Deepwater Horizon oil rig began spewing millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

“Whose side is she on?” asked Tarryl Clark, Bachmann’s Democratic opponent in Minnesota’s conservative 6th Congressional District.

Putting Bachmann’s comments into perspective, Clark said she was giving “advice to the corporate honchos at BP on how to keep themselves from being ‘fleeced’ by the American people.”

Contrary to the stereotyped charge, bureaucracies are not made up of faceless cogs. They are comprised of men and women–whose loves, fears, hates and ambitions are reflected within those institutions.

Nor can bureaucracies exist in a vacumn. Every bureaucracy has a constituency–if not several constituencies. And the people who comprise that constituency expect their needs–if not their wishes–to be met.

This proves true even in dictatorships. The dictator may sit at the top of the pile. But if those who serve him–such as the secret police and the army–feel ignored or slighted, they will take appropriate action–and soon there will be a new dictator.

Adolf Hitler, for example, was careful to retain support among the top leaders of the German Armed Forces, by giving them titles and estates–and an entire continent to dominate.

Thus, it is a mistake to view statements such as those made by Barton, Price and Bachmann as separate from the views held by the constituencies these politicians represent. If the voters who placed–and keep–them in power didn’t fully support their hate-filled views of President Obama, such statements simply wouldn’t be made.

Or, if they were, the voters would quickly register their anger and turn such representatives out of office. It is because such politicians truly represent the hatreds and fears and greeds of their constituencies that they got into office. And it is because they continue to reflect those hatreds, fears and greeds that they continue to remain there.

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