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Unless Congress acts soon, the unelected administrative state will rule unopposed

A dying document
A dying document

While much of the conservative press has been focusing on the illegal abuse of power by security agencies like the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Justice, in the past week a whole slew of stories having nothing to do with election politics or Donald Trump have even more starkly illustrated the growing power of the many alphabet agencies of the federal government’s executive branch, power that is cancelling the real constitutional power of Congress — even as Congress looks on impotently.

Unlike abusive and illegal indictments of Trump, or evidence that the Justice Department and FBI are acting to protect Joe Biden and his son Hunter, however, these others stories have generally gone unnoticed, except by your intrepid reporter here at Behind the Black.

First, on July 26th we had the Space Force proposing new regulations that would allow it to literally take control over all private space assets in any declared international emergency, without any need to compensate the owners.

The Space Force’s draft framework for how commercial satellite services could be called up in times of crisis or conflict to support military missions would allow the Defense Department to deny participating companies the right to sell their wares to any other client in times of “war, major conflict, national or international emergency.” [emphasis mine]

What is the point of owning anything if the U.S. military has the power to simply steal it from you, without paying you for it, anytime any president or Congress on a whim decides to declare an international emergency? Such declarations were once rare, but now they happen routinely, with dire consequences for private citizens, as we all learned during the COVID panic.

On that same day we also learned that the FAA has refused to allow the private company Varda from bringing back to Earth a capsule it had launched to space several months ago, with the express intent to manufacture needed pharmaceuticals in weightlessness that can’t be made on Earth.

Varda is the first to seek a reentry license under new FAA regulations known as Part 450. Those regulations were enacted by the FAA more than two years ago to streamline the launch and reentry licensing process. …For the commercial launch industry, the Part 450 regulations have become an area of concern. Only a handful of Part 450 launch licenses have been issued to date as the FAA begins a transition to the new regulations, but those licenses have taken longer to complete than expected, in some cases missing a 180-day statutory deadline. [emphasis mine]

The FAA’s action here illustrates how above-the-law these agencies have become. Even though Congress required it by law to issue licenses within certain deadlines, the FAA ignored that requirement, knowing full well that neither it nor its bureaucrats would face any consequences for overstepping their legal authority.

Nor was the FAA done exerting power that no federal agency was ever intended to have. The very next day it issued a statement that under no condition will there be any additional orbital test launches of SpaceX’s Starship/Superheavy until it decides to allow it.

An FAA spokesperson declined to speculate when the agency’s investigation might be completed, saying that “public safety and actions yet to be taken by SpaceX will dictate the timeline. … The FAA will not allow a return to flight operations until it determines that any system, process, or procedure related to the mishap does not affect public safety or any other aspect of the operator’s license,” the spokesperson said. “The mishap investigation is ongoing.”

As I noted then, “There is absolutely no one at the FAA capable of or knowledgeable enough to competently assess the safety of the next launch. The only people who can really do that are the engineers at SpaceX. All the FAA can do is reject SpaceX’s investigation — for political reasons — and demand SpaceX take additional actions, based merely on random guesses as to what needs to be done. And it can keep doing this repeatedly.”

Essentially, the FAA now considers itself to be the arbiter for all experimental rocketry. Nothing can happen unless it approves, which means if the party controlling the executive branch (presently the Democratic Party) happens to dislike any particular company or businessman (such as Elon Musk), it can act to destroy that person, with no fear of repercussions.

The march to power by the federal alphabet agencies continued. Next we had the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announcing that same day that it has decided to forego blocking the purchase of Aerojet Rocketdyne by L3Harris. Previously it had acted to squelch Lockheed Martin’s attempt to buy Aerojet. One cannot help wondering if L3Harris had simply made the right political contributions — and Lockheed Martin had not — and thus the FTC was ordered to play favorites.

During the same time period this past week, the ongoing backroom political battle over the FCC’s effort to grab extra regulatory power over space junk and satellite construction, entirely outside its legal statutory authority, saw Congress appear to make half-hearted moves to block that effort.

First, the House rejected a bill that would have made official that FCC effort. While this seems encouraging, no one should see it as that. The vote for procedural reasons required a two-thirds majority, and the House voted 250 in favor of the bill, and 163 against, a clear majority in favor but only 16 votes short of approval. In other words, the House is in general quite okay with the FCC power grab. It sees nothing objectionable about ceding its Constitutional authority to this unelected bureaucracy.

Next, a Senate committee approved a bill that would give the regulatory responsibility over space junk to NASA and the Commerce Department. Though this bill suggests the Senate also disapproves of the FCC’s actions, it also tells us that the Senate has no interest in maintaining its own power. Instead, it wants to hand it over to different agencies, probably because of political backroom favoritism that is at present difficult to identify.

The house-cleaning will be stopped, no matter what
The house-cleaning will be stopped, no matter what

The future

So, what all these stories tell us? In the short span of a week four different agencies of the executive branch — the Space Force, the FAA, the FCC, the FTC — all took actions to exert power that the Constitution never intended them to have. In every case, Congress did little or nothing to fight back.

And all of this took place while the big news story was how the Justice Department and the FBI were abusing their power to damage Joe Biden’s political opponents, while protecting Biden and his son from what should be a certain indictment for illegally taking bribes from foreign powers.

Each story by itself could be put aside as a typical example of the political maneuvers normal for Washington. When taken as a group however they illustrate a much more fearsome historical trend. The unelected administrative state is now cementing its power, and there appears to be no one in the elected branch of government willing to fight back.

Some experts point to recent Supreme Court decisions restricting power grabs by other agencies — the EPA and the ATF — as proof that a balance is being restored.

I say poppycock. If our elected officials depend on the judicial branch to do their work for them they are simply delegating their power to other unelected officials. Not only will appointed bureaucrats continue to rule, they will do so under the supervision of appointed judges. Congress will become utterly irrelevant.

More important, the will of the voters will be utterly irrelevant. In fact, there are strong signs that this might be what Congress wants. Make the voters irrelevant by giving power to others who can then feed money and pay-offs back to Congress. Everyone in Washington will be sitting peachy-keen, even as that administrative boot smashes its heel into the face of every American citizen.

These events foretell the future. They also help to explain why that administrative state — led by the Justice Department — is so desperate to block Donald Trump. While he failed miserably in cleaning house while president, it does appear he has no intention of doing the same in a second term. In fact, there were strong signs near the end of that first term that if he was re-elected in 2020 he would have moved fast then to clean house.

Thus, it is no surprise the Washington power structure now appears very willing to do almost anything to keep someone like Trump out of power. Nor should we be naive to think its hate is only targeted at Trump. If Trump should fail to get the Republican nomination for president, it will then turn its hate to whoever replaces him, even if that candidate happens to be a member of the establishment Republican Party that has for decades worked hand-in-glove with the Democrats to solidify the power of that administrative state.

Expect a lot of election hanky-panky in 2024. The unelected people who run the government now have the incentive, power, and freedom to cheat in order to remain in control.

The odds of that national election being clean and without tampering is practically nil.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News



    Viveck Ramaswamy makes a speech that goes to the heart of what is ongoing in our country today where the Federal government under the direct control of one political party and its law and justice powers have been subjectively weaponized for political purposes. You cannot or do not see and understand that?

    Viveck Ramaswamy: 4:27 min.


  • I don’t see anything good coming in the future. I say that there is Zero chance that it will be a clean election. And if the Democrats/Deep State see that that there is a chance they will lose they may even take steps to prevent elections in 2024.

  • BillB:

    I agree with you, they will literally do or attempt to do ANYTHING to prevail and retain their political power.


    Warfare, political or otherwise can become existentially desperate in order to survive. No difference here.

    And the only solution is that the people be to some great degree informed about what the actual truth is. And so who is the real enemy of the people today that have been revealed for all to plainly see?

    JOURNALISTS who refuse to objectively gather and report the goings on in the government and the country. The media which is their vehicle which is dominated by massive soulless corporate entities are the greatest threat to America, the Constitution and everyones freedom and ability to pursue their self-interests.

    They as a group seek to through authoritarian rule to own and manage humanity.

    Subjectively oriented politicians and journalists are the greatest threat to everyone. Nothing more, nothing less, and they believe they are fighting a righteous fight.

    Why do they as a group insist on absolutely allowing information or disallowing information into the public sphere?

    (That is a rhetorical question)

  • Cotour

    To my point about “journalists”:

    “Journalism professor claims children should be exposed to adult GENITALIA to prepare them for seeing naked trans people in locker rooms ”

    This is a result of “higher” education. And you have to be constantly high to agree with these radical operatives’ opinions and edicts.

    They will tell you what free speech you can have (See: Donald Trump and his ability to have his free speech and an opinion and an ability to be advised by his attorneys), what you must think and why you must think it.

    These people are insidious and authoritarian and very dangerous because they actually believe these things.

    And you are not allowed to even question them.

  • James Street

    Statements like the below from Trump (today on Truth Social) make me believe he is still in charge of draining the swamp. Even if he isn’t the bureaucratic state is unsustainable and always implodes. We’re probably around $200 trillion of unfunded mandates that they keep printing dollars to cover. I believe it will all work out but it may get messy.

    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
    Aug 03, 2023, 9:01 AM

  • Jeff Wright

    It’s nothing new…I remember a tale called “‘Pressed at Sea” about a nautical term called “impressment.”

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “Not only will appointed bureaucrats continue to rule, they will do so under the supervision of appointed judges. Congress will become utterly irrelevant.

    Congress has been stuffing off its responsibilities to the bureaucrats in the executive branch for many decades. More than a century ago, it changed the way it approved bond issues to make it much easier to bypass the difficult process of debate on the topic. Now bonds are issued routinely, virtually without oversight, the only limiting factor being a debt limit, which Congress consistently raises any time the nation gets close to the previously set limit. Even this process may disappear, allowing the executive branch to borrow money at will, with absolutely no oversight at all.

    Congress has abrogated similar responsibilities for many other topics and issues. It is as though they do not desire power but are merely happy with their titles and the perquisites that come with the titles. Rather than do the work of the nation, they seem to spend their time at parties and fundraisers as well as meetings with favored donors to see how they can help their “friends” at the expense of their friends’ adversaries (e.g. favor Blue Origin over SpaceX).

    Where are the checks and balances? Apparently, they are no longer between the branches of government but between the political parties, and with the Republicans going along with the Democrats in order to get along with them, there aren’t many checks, and there is little balance.


    In the continuing attack by the Democrat party machine on America by flooding the country with illegals from basically all over the world IMO to cement over time their ability to win elections, what happens when fall and winter roll in?

    NYC Mayor Adams warns Biden about spiraling migrant crisis – POLITICO

    New York City is a declared “sanctuary” city, and along with that designation comes certain implied responsibilities for the tax paying citizen. The Democrat party machine controlled Federal government who is clearly continuing to hold open the Southern border as a function of political strategy is forcing you as a taxpayer to fund its political agenda.

    Have you as an America asked yourself: Why is the Southern border wide open and the Democrat controlled government tells everyone that there is nothing to see there while millions pour across the border? You never wondered about that? There has to be a reason.

    And what is the next unstoppable mother nature event about to take place? The seasons will be changing shortly as fall and winter roll in and there are illegals now sleeping on the streets because the Democrat party machine cannot yet be forced to close the border. Then what?

    Then what? IMO there will be a humanitarian crisis declared and emergency powers will probably be instituted by the NYC mayor and or the governor and even more money will be forced to be spent in order that these illegals not die on the streets. Property confiscation? Forced housing on private property? Authoritarian powers exercised?

    So, the Democrat party machine refuses to close the border. Democrat party mayors and governors are complaining that they are being drained of resources (your tax dollars) and will not be able to pay to house these illegals that the Democrat party machine continues forcing on them.

    This is actually politically brilliant if you are a Democrat party machine operative; you get both the flood of illegals into the country in order to further the culture of dependency. And you get the forging of new a Democrat party voter base over time in the proposed second terms of Joe Biden who will attempt to give blanket citizenship and Rights of some sort through executive order.

    At what point will there have to be made emergency accommodations for these now millions of illegals who cannot legally be hired for work? Who are living on the streets under threat of fall and winter setting in? Something has got to give, and they are all betting on blanket immunity or some sort of work permit for all and billions in tax money confiscation to pay of it all.

    It is either that or shipping most of them back to where they came from? Then what? Now you have violence in the streets by desperate illegal immigrants strategically installed within the country by the Democrat party machine?

    AND, the best and most brilliant part of all is the Democrat party machine has forged through legal means it all being forced and paid for with American citizens tax money (that is you) who do not really want or need the massive flood of illegals. Legal immigration absolutely, welcome. Illegal immigration? Absolutely NOT!

    If you ever wondered whether there were consequences to elections then wonder no more, this is no longer some intellectual ideological tribal exercise, this is your new American reality.

    IF you continue as voters to continue to think and do as you continue to think and do what do you think the end result will be? Ultimately it is up to you. Of course, remembering that politics is the dirtiest, filthiest most corrupt activity that human beings participate in. Make of that what you will.

    Then what? Standby to find out it will not be too long of a wait.

    Are you paying attention yet America? JGL 8/4/23

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    Musk should just move the launchpad to the south side of the river. Doing that might actually cheaper than the lawyer’s fees needed to fight the FAA,FCC,FTC, Space Force etc

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon: I assume you are suggesting Musk move his operations to Mexico. Every time someone makes this shallow and not very well thought out suggestion, I cut and paste the following reply, which only scratches the surface of why running will not work:
    Why is it the first reaction of so many people when I post stories like this is to suggest that Elon Musk flee, to run away? Not only can’t he do it (both for legal and practical reasons), it is the worst possibly reaction to this government overreach.

    It is time all Americans stopped running. There really is no where else to go. We need to stand and fight, and force the government and its intolerant minions to back down. Otherwise, freedom will continue to lose ground everywhere.

    I expect Musk to fight, as he has fought and won previously.

    As for moving:

    1. Legally he can’t. SpaceX as a rocket company falls until strict federal regulations. No matter where he moves those regulations will apply, especially because much of his work force and materials will come from the U.S.

    2. Practically he can’t. The qualified workers and infrastructure doesn’t exist in these other locations. You can’t simply recreate this kind of hi-tech company in South Africa, in Mexico, or any other third world country.

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    Re what happens next…
    Indicators here and there point to a possible down-grading of the heat: a neighborhood watch in a no-go area in Sweden, 2 guys giving a shoplifter (hah! Shop-shoveller more like
    .) a minor beat down with a quarterstaff. And of course you see no rampant shoplifting in places that have the Castle doctrine for business.

    Hopefully that might change some minds.. of course that assumes a thinking mind.

    Next step Unintended Consequences (John Ross, style).

  • James Street

    Three things you never do:
    1. Kidnap Liam Neeson’s daughter
    2. Kill Keanu Reeves’ dog
    3. Suggest SpaceX moving offshore on Robert’s blog

  • James Street: Your warning will be to no avail. I guarantee #3 is going to happen again. And again. And again. And again. And……etc.

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