Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The zampolits have come to America

This isn't becoming very much of a break from blogging, is it? This is the third post I've made since I declared last week that I would be refraining from my usual blogging routine. But as with the previous two, if it wasn't severely important then I wouldn't be making it at all.

I've said once or twice on this blog that the way things are going in America, that we owe an apology to the leaders of the old Soviet Union. At least they were honest enough about having one-party rule instead of trying to fool the people into thinking otherwise. In the past few years I've watched this country adopt so many marks of that regime: warrant-less searches, seizure without hearing, suppression of reasonable dissent, refusal to respect the right to privacy...

...now comes something that I never, ever expected to see: the coming of zampolits to America.

A zampolit, in the days of the Soviet Union, was a "political officer" assigned to units of the Soviet military, to ensure loyalty to the party and to make sure that party decisions and policies were carried out. The zampolit was a member of the party and not the military... but he had the authority to over-ride the command of military officers and remove them if he so wished. The zampolits were one of the big mechanisms in place that kept the armed forces from overthrowing the Communists. They were part of the system that kept the dictators in power for so long.

"Political officers" aren't a good thing, for obvious reasons.

So please forgive me if I'm being irrationally alarmed by this article from The New York Times:

Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation

By ROBERT PEAR
Published: January 30, 2007

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 — President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

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.

Maybe there is a substantial difference between these "political appointees" and the zampolits... but they certainly do seem downright similar in function. Namely, that being to increase the power of a central figure.

How is that possibly a good thing?

Just something I felt led to take note of, for future reference.