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Belmont Club

Irish Democracy

January 27th, 2014 - 5:20 pm

Glenn Reynolds recently revived the strategy of “Irish Democracy” as a way of pushing back against unlimited Federal Expansion.  This policy was adopted by the Irish Republicans as an alternative to directly confronting the British Empire in the early 20th century.  For those unfamiliar with the idea, its clearest expression was given in the movie “Michael Collins”,  when the main character counseled the crowds against going head to head with London: “we have a weapon more powerful… than any in the whole arsenal of the British Empire! That weapon… is our refusal! … There is one weapon that the British cannot take away from us: we can ignore them.”

And that’s exactly what’s happening, Reynolds argues, across as a whole range of Federal Government programs from the War on Drugs, Border Control, War on Terror and even Obamacare.  They are becoming dead letters. They exist but not really. People aren’t exactly refusing to obey the laws. There are just so many regulations out there and so little time to obey them that inevitably 24 hours runs out before you can comply with them all.

That seems to be happening right now, in two very different areas. In one area, we have the refusal of people to sign up for Obamacare in anything like the numbers that were predicted, or needed to make it work. …

Meanwhile, on the marijuana front, the people of states like Colorado are engaging in an odd, 21st century variety of nullification. Unlike the 19th century John Calhoun version, state laws legalizing marijuana don’t purport to neutralize the still-extant federal laws banning cannabis. But the state, and millions of Coloradans, are simply ignoring the federal law and, in essence, daring the feds to do something about it.

State laws, of course, can’t neutralize federal law, as the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause makes clear. But, bloated as it is, the federal law enforcement apparatus isn’t up to the task of prosecuting all the marijuana users in Colorado. And if it tried, it would have to bring them to trial before juries in Colorado, who would probably acquit most of them. There would also be massive political backlash, amplified in the coming 2014 and 2016 elections because Colorado is a swing state. And in response to Colorado’s example, other states look likely to follow suit, making the feds’ problem much bigger.

It’s less IRA conspiracy and more the reign of chaos. Neverthless Reynolds’ use of the word “Irish” is particularly apt because the ringleader of the current uproar is that well known denizen of the Emerald Isles, Murphy. Murphy is present wherever incompetence, bankruptcy and overreach are to be found. And Murphy right now is all over the place.

Dr. Scott Atlas, writing in Forbes describes his very real attendance in Obamacare. In their hunger for authority Obamacare’s designers bit off so much that the president has had to walk things back, bit by bit, yard by yard, just to keep it lurching forward.

Clearly, there has been no shortage of pivots and ad hoc modifications to the ACA by the Obama administration. In fact, the president is coming under fire from eleven states’ attorneys and numerous legal scholars for acting outside the boundaries of his constitutional authority to unilaterally and selectively delay deadlines and modify parts of the law … Regardless of the legitimacy of the administration’s actions, the shifts were effected because the law was either literally impossible to obey as written, or because the consequences of the law became embarrassingly indefensible for President Obama personally.

Atlas notes the constant changes have made it a policy harlequin, like a clown whose garment is festooned with patches and checkered with adjustments, no two of the same color. Indeed one wag remarked that Obamacare is being repealed on installment by Obama himself. At the heart of the problem is the fact that it is inherently unworkable so it has to be held together by expensive expedients.  Twelve term Democratic Congressman Jim Moran explained it.

Jim Moran, an Appropriations Committee member who said this month that he will not seek re-election in 2014, said that not enough young people are signing up for Obamacare coverage to make the law work.

“I’m afraid that the millennials, if you will, are less likely to sign up. I think they feel more independent, I think they feel a little more invulnerable than prior generations. But I don’t think we’re going to get enough young people signing up to make this bill work as it was intended to financially.” …

“And, frankly, there’s some legitimacy to their concern because the government spends about $7 for the elderly for every $1 it spends on the young,” Moran said.

“I just don’t know how we’re going to do it frankly. If we had a solution I’d be telling the president right now,” Moran said.

Because the premises of the program were unrealistic to begin with it is holding together only by the application of subsidies and transfers, now at the stage where it needs a patch to fix the previous patch. It’s a problem the administration makes incomparably worse across the whole policy spectrum by the practice of “moving on” and “managing perceptions”. The fundamental solutions that Dr. Atlas pines for and which have eluded Congressman Moran are never seriously sought. There is only time for emergency repairs. The basic difficulties are simply buried as the administration moves things to the next news cycle.

Expedients are not limited to Obamacare, but in general to Syria, China, the deficit — every problem the administration faces. Out of money? Raise the debt limit. Next? The administration simply applies more and more spin.  But while this moves the subject off the front pages it does not actually fix anything. In the background Murphy continues to work his “Irish Democracy”. Illegal aliens continue to pour over the fence, the drug dealers swamp the streets, al-Qaeda takes one town after another, Iran continues to arm, China leaps ahead heedless of the “programs” designed to stop them.

Things fall apart because the world has one weapon that Obama cannot take away from it: it can ignore him. And it is ignoring him.

The harsh realities of dollars and cents, geopolitics and actualities are proceeding as if he never existed. The Navy is cutting down to two deployable carriers per cycle. Defense contractors are telling their shareholders that 2014 will be the worst year for revenue in recent record. The Washington Post reports the military may close the base commissaries to save money.

Nothing in his state of the union speech can change that. Murphy isn’t listening.

Paul Krugman may believe that the Fed can print money on any pretext — even against a fake space alien invasion — and is therefore omnipotent, but if so why can’t they print money to keep the commissaries open or the ships at sea?

Maybe Federal overreach is poisoning the Federal Government itself. It is self-generating its own overload. As it takes on more and more it can do less and less. “The last time I drove a car myself,” Hillary Clinton was quoted as saying by the Washington Post, “was in 1996″. The Post added “Clinton’s lack of experience behind the wheel isn’t all that unusual for a person who has been in public life as long as she has.”

And that perhaps captures better than anything else why the Federal Government may be bloating itself to death. Like a morbidly obese person who can no longer see his own feet, it can no longer even reach the steering wheel. It is suffocating itself with its own weight. And in the end Murphy will just show up with the shovel and the headstone. Here lies — and that’s a complete sentence.


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Top Rated Comments   
I think folks who think Obama is a fool are mistaken. He is a intelligent and indoctrinated and I believe more than a little ruthless. The way governments typically deal with widespread passive civil disobedience is with selective ruthless enforcement. Make a example of the few and the rest will comply. Create chaos and the majority will welcome a crackdown. Shut down the government again and instead of fencing off a few open air parks he might shut down vital infrastructure and say there is no money to pay for it. Turn the lights off, let the mobs loot and send the FBI to crack down on the Tea Party and most of America is apt to applaud. We live in dangerous and volatile times. The cops aren't etting armored vehicles to use against muggers or wife beaters or drunk drivers all of which present a clearer and more direct danger to the public than anything you could use an armored car against.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
IRISH DEMOCRACY

When the Celts were pushed off the northwest corner of the continent of Asia by my Germanic forebears all those many years ago, they stopped for a spell in the rocky hills of Scotland and the lush, green fields of Ireland, where they clung grimly to the last handhold before being driven into the sea, and in the process becoming as tough as nails and twice as ornery. The Scotch-Irish fighting man formed the backbone of the Empire’s overseas military. So Irish democracy is a bit more than passively ignoring the toffs. My immediate family is Norwegian and German immigrant, but the family tree contains an Irishman who was with Washington at Long Island when only a providential fog allowed Washington and his men to escape certain death or capture. Another Irish ancestor of mine fought in the War of 1812, though they have been peaceable, in the main, ever since.

Proud I am of my Celtic blood
As thin as it might be
For when the embattled farmers stood
They stood for you and me
The tapestry the people weave
Of deeds of great renown
Show Washington one Christmas Eve
Cross o’er to Trenton town
Yes Irishmen were in those boats
And bitter cold that night
With many without shoes or coats
No matter, they would fight
The Irish Brigade at Burnside’s bridge
The 69th New York
The lads who fought Elsenborn ridge
With roots in County Cork
No passive’s not the word I’d use
When speaking of the Celts
They’re quick to smile but light the fuse
And you’ll wind up with welts

42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
First, Murphy is not the operative Irishman. It is O'Toole. As in O'Toole's Corollary to Murphy's Law:

Murphy was a bleeding optimist!

Second, one of the prime movers of "Irish Democracy" is the fact that the State does not pay attention to the law or the Constitution any time they are not convenient. If the law is not legitimate in reference to the State, why should people obey it? And there is the sense that the government itself lacks legitimacy. So short of brute force, there is no reason to obey. And if they try brute force .... there will be what my people call "interesting times". And I suspect there are more than a few "honarary Irishmen" who figure that they might as well have those times now, so their children won't have to.

Subotai Bahadur
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (42)
All Comments   (42)
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I don't know which is worst on this site: The levels of cynicism at what our governing class has done to us or the levels of anguish at where we are so afraid they are taking us. We have seen and heard the lies of Obama, Holder, both Clintons, Kerry, Reid, at al so often that we have become inured to them. In particular, Obama's lies and illegalities have become ubiquitous, not even drawing much direct comment. We now can just assume them. And even here, too often we get apologies for political lying as being "just part of politics. You know, all politicians do it."

But no politician of any stature in my memory has been the scofflaw that Obama and Holder are. Their open, stated refusal to enforce the laws of the land is breath-taking in its contempt for the law, the Congress, and the people. Where is the article in the Constitution that authorizes Obama and Holder to simply abrogate laws they dislike or ones they choose not to enforce? Where is the righteous anger that should be exploding in their faces? And where are the representatives of the people who should be standing tall and calling these things by their right names: lies, official oppression, direct disobedience, misappropriation of funds, misuse of government resources for personal and political gain, High Crimes and Misdemeanors. Subotai can give us the correct quote but Confucious said it several millennia ago: if things aren't named rightly they cannot be managed (governed) rightly.

In an absurd side note (don't ask where it came from), it strikes me that the movie "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" should be sub-titled "Clinton, Obama, and AlGore".
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The clip about the origins of "Gary Owen" reminds me of my visit to the Spy Museum. As background music for a slide show in the American Revolution and early spy rings was "Gary Owen" and "The Girl I Left Behind Me," fife & drum from the Civil War and the 7th Cavalry. I e-mailed the museum and offered a whole raft of 18th-century fife & drum for them to replace on the soundtrack, but haven't heard back. You know, "fife & drum is fife & drum, whatever . . ." . . . . . :-)
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
'' ... It is self-generating its own overload. As it takes on more and more it can do less and less. ... ''

Oh, my! Reminds of the old college drinking days and the famous Kee-kee Bird: ''Lo, the Kee-kee Bird. It flies in ever-diminishing circles at an ever-increasing velocity until it flies up its own ***hole, at which point it utters the famous cry, 'Kee-rist, what a sensation!!' ''

Yes, Mr O, be careful what you wish for:

''The Czar himself is powerless against the bureaucratic body [substitute ''us'' instead]; he can send any one of them to Siberia, but he cannot govern without them, or against their will. On every decree of his they have a tacit veto, by merely refraining from carrying it into effect.''--John Stuart Mill

''Between the idea
And the Reality
Between the Motion
And the Act
Falls the Shadow.''
--T.S.Eliot

''The mountains are high and the Emperor is far away.''--Chinese proverb

42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I described what's called "Irish Democracy" here (love the term, by the way) as "Internal Secession" in a number of posts some time back. I've also said that at least half of Americans are being treated as the "Dark Matter of the American Universe," and being marginalized, except when the IRS comes calling to extract tribute.

"Irish Democracy" has a nice ring to it.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The real power the TWANLOC have over us is what Ayn Rand termed "the sanction of the victim". They produce nothing, they have no grasp of reality, they are powerless. Yet we squeal and bend and kneel.

My Scots Irish ancestors came to this country around 1700. I don't think I could look them in the eye. We are failing the test due to our inaction, but events may yet allow us to redeem ourselves. But not if we continue our inaction to the point where we're just fighting to survive in an apocalyptic collapse.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Scotch-Irish of Appalachia declared their independence from The Crown in 1772. The Watauga Association and the "Overmountain Men":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overmountain_Men
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The ancestors of these men are being deliberately forced onto the Food Stamps roles. The bureaucrats know exactly what they're doing and why. Neutralize ALL potential opposition.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
more likely, it's happening to their descendants. (sorry, couldn't resist)
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"DOH!" :-)
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
So did mine on my father's side and his father married a girl who came here from Belfast in her teens. I can only imagine what they'd be saying now.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Welcome to the world that the rest of us live in. Canada matches or exceeds the regulatory bloat of the US, but the regulations are pretty consistently ignored. In my industry I have about 6 major regulatory structures that affect what I do, and I would estimate the industry compliance at about 25%. At trade school the classic and repeated trick is to call the emergency phone numbers we are told are essential ($1,000,000 fines if you don't call), and the folks who answer are utterly ignorant of the regulations and requirements.

So it isn't just citizens who ignore this stuff, it is the government agencies themselves. They don't have the resources to do it anyways. They are so close to the laffer curve falloffs that any regulatory enforcment effort immediately starts lowering revenues.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Aw yes, let us become the Powerful and Proud Irish Nation of Ireland! Where we can languish under the Control of the crown for centuries upon centuries… I believe We are American’s, Americans who’s forefathers did not wish to “Languish” under the imperial crown! Nor the Euro version of the Elitist Class! It’s better to die fighting the evil now occupying the seat of power in Washington then to pass away under the boot of Oppressive laws and soulless jackbooted government thugs who march to the darkness that reigns.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Good Soldier Schweik might serve as a similar model here. A Czech who joins the Austrian army with great apparent zeal on the outbreak of the Great War, Schweik appears eager to be a good soldier, but his idiocy and incompetence constantly mess up his little corner of the Austrian war effort. The reader feels sure that that’s just what Schweik wants, that his apparent loyalty to and enthusiasm for the Austrian cause is feigned, and that his incompetence is intentional sabotage of that cause.

As drbatman notes, this kind of thing has been common in many parts of Europe. That we haven’t had to play these kinds of games in America is part of that American exceptionalism that our new ruling class so despises, and is probably part of the reason for exceptional American productivity in the past: we could just concentrate on getting the job done in a straightforward, honest way.

My instinct is to give a happy “yes!” to Irish democracy and Schweik stratagems in our current situation. But I pause when it occurs that these are the ways and means of conquered and subjugated people: Irish by English, Czechs by Austrians. Are we now to consider ourselves conquered and subjugated in our own land? And will adopting these ways of being change us in some ways for the worse, make us sneakier, less honest, more “truculent.” Perhaps; but perhaps we need to anyway.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Do "teh Won"s" previous "familial" claims and "recreational" pursuits qualify him as a "Smoked Irishman"?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think folks who think Obama is a fool are mistaken. He is a intelligent and indoctrinated and I believe more than a little ruthless. The way governments typically deal with widespread passive civil disobedience is with selective ruthless enforcement. Make a example of the few and the rest will comply. Create chaos and the majority will welcome a crackdown. Shut down the government again and instead of fencing off a few open air parks he might shut down vital infrastructure and say there is no money to pay for it. Turn the lights off, let the mobs loot and send the FBI to crack down on the Tea Party and most of America is apt to applaud. We live in dangerous and volatile times. The cops aren't etting armored vehicles to use against muggers or wife beaters or drunk drivers all of which present a clearer and more direct danger to the public than anything you could use an armored car against.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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