I was listening to Glenn Beck today and I heard Glenn say that Cass Sustein in the most "dangerous" man in Washington at this time. Cass was the object of discussion because Glenn charges that Sustein is in the process of banning lead based ammo in the name of saving the environment via the EPA. The accusation is that if the EPA makes such a ban nationwide, ammo will become so expensive that most will forgo owning any. In effect, it would be a back door process of limiting the right to bear arms without ever addressing the issue of banning weapons. This would be preferable to attacking the Constitutional right to bear arms which is protected by the Second Amendment. In short, you would still be able to own a gun, but probably not afford to use it. The great part is that neither Congress of the President would get fingered so as to be blamed, rather, it would be a group of unelected bureaucrats who will be blamed who work for the EPA. At least, that is the spin those on the right are giving the issue.
That aside, I decided to do a little digging into the man named Cass Sunstein.
He is an American legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and behavioral economics. He currently is the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama Administration. He is currently on leave as a professor of law.
In 2008 Cass joined the faculty of Harvard Law School and began serving as the director of its program on Risk Regulation. He writes, "The Program on Risk Regulation will focus on how law and policy deal with the central hazards of the 21rst century. Anticipated areas of study include terrorism, climate change, occupational safety, infectious disseases, natural disasters, and other low-probability, hight consequence events. Sustein plans to rely on significant student involvement in the work of this new program."
In his research on risk regulation, Cass is known for developing the concept of availability cascades, wherein popular discussion of an idea is self-feeding and causes individuals to overweight its importance. In addition, he has written about 20 some books from his research, so to get a better look at the man Cass Sustein it would behoove us to study these works.
Sunstein's 2004 book, "The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever", advocates the Second Bill of Rights proposed by FDR. Among these rights are a right to an education, a right to a home, a right to health care, and a right to protection against monopolies. In his book, "Republic", Cass argues that the Internet may weaken democracy because it allows citizens to isolate themselves within groups that share their own views and experiences, and thus cut themselves off from any information that might challenge their beliefs, a phenomenon known as cyberbalkanization. He is a known advocate of the "Fairness Doctrine".
Sunstein's confirmation had been long blocked because of controversy over allegations about his political and adademic views. On 9/29/09, the Senate voted for cloture of Sunstein's nomination as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Managemnt and Budget. The motion passed in a 63-35 vote and he was confirmed.
In terms of his legal philosophy, Sunstein is a proponent of judicial minimalism, arguing that judges should focus primarily on deciding the case at hand, and avoid making sweeping changes to the law or decisions that have broad-reaching efects. Some veiw Cass as a liberal, however, others despute this because he supported "W"'s judicial nominations McConnell and Roberts. Also he provided strong theoretical support for the death penalty. He also believes that the interpretation of federal law should be made not by judges but by the beliefs and commitments of the US president and those around him. According to Cass, "There is no reason to believe that in the face of statutory ambiguity, the meaning of federal law be settled by the inclinations and predispositions of federal judges. The outcomes should instead depend on the commitments and beliefs of the President and those who operate under him," argued Sunstein.
In 2002, at the height of controversy over "W"'s creation of military commissions without Congressional approval, Sunstein stepped forward to insist that under existing law, President Bush has the legal authority to use military commission and that President Bush's choice stands on firm legal ground. Sustein scorned as ludicrous the argument from Law Professor George Fletcher that the Supreme Court would find Bush's military commissions without any legal basis. However, four years later--in its Hamdan ruling-- the Supreme Court held that Bush lacked the legal authority to create militray commissions without approval from Congress. So adding to Susteins controversy, what he had been proported to be ludricrous the Supreme Court upheld.
As for the First Amendment, he wrote the book, "Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech." In it, Cass says there is a need to "reformulate" First Amendment law. He thinks that the current formulation, based on Justice Holmes' conception of free speech as a marketplace "disserves the aspirations of those who wrote America's founding document." The purpose of this reformulation would be to "reinvigorate processes of democratic deliberation, by ensuring greater attention to public issues and greater diversity of views." He is concerned by the present "situation in which like-minded people speak or listen mostly to one another." and thinks in "light of astonishing economic and technological changes, we must doubt whether, as interpreted, the constitutional guarantee of free speech is adequately serving domestic goals" He proposes a "New Deal for speech that would draw on Justice Brandeis' insistence on the role of free speech in promoting political deliberation and citizenship."
Free speech in terms of conspiracy theories and such may not be adequatly stopped by the new "reformulation" of the First Amendment. So Sustein has proposed a solution in his book, "Conspiracy Theories". He writes, "The existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories, we suggest, is no trivial matter, posing real risks to the government's antiterrorism policies, whatever the latter may be." He then says, 'the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups." Also, "Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action." Sustein also analyzed the practice of secret government payments to outside commentators, who are then held out as independent experts; they suggest that "government can supply these independent experts with information and perhaps prod them into action from behind the scenes," further warning that "too close a connection will be self-defeating if it is exposed." Sunstein aruges that the practice of enlisting non-governmental officials, "might ensure that credible independent experts offer the rebuttal, rather than government officials themselves. The price of credibility is that government cannot be seen to control the independent experts." This position has been criticized by some experts." This position has been criticized by some commentators, who agrue that it would violate prohibitions on government propoganda aimed at domestic citizens."
In regard to taxation, Sustein argues that, "We should celebrate tax day". He argues that without taxes, there would be no liberty. Without taxes there would be no property. Without taxes, few of us would have any assets worth defending adding that there is no liberty without dependency. Sustein goes on to say, "If government could not intervene effectively, none of the individual rights to which Americans have become accustomed could be reliably protected. This is why the overused distinction between "negative" and "positive" rights makes little sense. Rights to private property, freedom of speech, immunity from police abuse, contractual liberty and free exercise of religion -- just as much as rights to Social Security, Medicare and food stamps -- are taxpayer-funded and government-managed social services designed to improve collective and individual well-being.
As for my own views, the most troubling aspect to this mans philosophy is his blatant disregard to the checks and balances within the Republic. He consistantly sides with the power of the Executive Branch whether there be a Republican or Democrat in the Oval Office over both the Legislative Branch and/or Judicial Branch. In addtion, he is now in the position of effecting legislative policy without the Constitutional process of passing laws via regulation. He also seems to view the Constitution as more of an obstacle that needs to be "revised" than he does a road block to government power.
Ok, now all of you Cass Sustein payed (under the table) government propogandists are free to engage and try to discredit Whodey once again!!