Saturday, October 24, 2015

This Is What Big Government Looks Like

Depending upon your predilection, I understand you must be bored with Benghazi. I understand you must be bored with Hillary. But I do not want to spend time parsing HRH's appearance before the Select Committee. I'd much rather connect it - as is often my objective - to another item in the news which was dropped on a Friday afternoon in order to be ignored as quickly as possible.

The Justice Department announced that it will not bring any charges against Lois Lerner for her work stalling 501(c)(3) applications by conservative groups during the Obama reelection season. Even Lerner herself feared prosecution by declining to incriminate herself during congressional testimony. She even "disappeared" her emails (this is positively contagious in the most scandal-free administration in history) which were subsequently recovered. So the word is out: if you work for the "right" familia, do what you need to do.

We're all familiar with the popular refrain chanted loudly during protests by leftists usually focused on abridging the rights of others: This Is What Democracy Looks Like. I'm starting to believe them. Unfortunately, their definition of "democracy" is looking like a very different version than my own.

There are several broad themes that resonate through nearly eight years of an Obama Administration. You may not agree that these represent tectonic changes in governing, but they undeniably represent changes in the method of of governing. I'm also not trying suggest that these modalities were not present in earlier administrations, just that they have become institutionalized under this president.

1) There is no accountability in the bureaucracy - time and time again, errors of omission or commission have absolutely no consequence in the sphere of government as they do in the private sector. No one bears responsibility for four American deaths in Benghazi; admissions of responsibility are intended for the consumption of a sympathetic press, not because the buck has really stopped somewhere. EPA-triggered releases of mine trailings into Colorado groundwater? Blatant targeting of political opponents by the IRS during a presidential campaign accompanied by destruction of emails? Veterans waiting months for treatment while administrators collect bonuses for "meeting quota"? This has all become business as usual.

2) Truncation of constitutionally mandated legislative procedure - to their credit, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have perfected the legislative end around for the benefit of their members, special interests and party. Using budget reconciliation to pass Obamacare with a simple majority. Passing JCPOA with a minority negative vote. Employing the nuclear option to insure progressive judicial nominees could not be blocked. Using the opposite of the nuclear option - the filibuster - to prevent Republican-favored legislation, like blocking Planned Parenthood's access to taxpayer support, from succeeding. Obama himself has contributed to this effort with his use of executive action as a substitute for generating legislation from the people's bodies.

3) The Obama foreign policy doctrine is "anti-colonialist" in a 19th century sense and isolationist in a libertarian sense - beginning with his now famous "apology" tour epitomized by his Cairo speech, the Obama doctrine can be characterized as sympathetic to "oppressed peoples" in the vernacular of Sixties radical speak and focused on the plight of the Islamic world.

In many ways, Obama adopted the views of Samantha Power, his current UN ambassador, as his own. She believed the US should use its military power as a force for "good", to intervene on behalf of possible genocide or mass civilian killings. She believed Israel to be an "occupying power". She advocated for intervention in Libya to oust Qaddafi. She criticized Russian military actions in the Crimea and Ukraine. Could anything have appalled her more than the use of chemical and barrel bomb armaments against civilians in Syria?

But this Power doctrine, no matter its good intentions (like all progressive initiatives), has collapsed utterly because there are always unintended consequences when one takes action (shouldn't they have learned this from George W?). Like in Libya. Or threatens to take action and then doesn't. Like in Syria. To top it all off, this intercession on behalf of threatened populations became selectively enforced. It was applied in Libya, but not to protect areas terrorized by ISIS where religious minorities and homosexuals have been specifically targeted.

I believe it is this subtle anti-colonialism that colors support for the Arab Spring through North Africa, that explains the tilt toward the Palestinians and the more vocal opposition to Israel, and drove the requirement to secure an agreement with Iran at any cost. It is also the impetus for bringing as many Muslim refugees as politically palatable from the Mideast turmoil wrought in no small measure by the failures of their own doctrine. Note that there is no such support for bringing Christian refugees here though their communities are under systematic siege.

So, we have a weakened foreign policy posture that most closely resembles Jimmy Carter's. An ever-expanding federal government that acts without regard to consequence. A broken legislative process which appears to be controlled by the minority while the majority is too timid to challenge the president's agenda for fear of media criticism. And a $19 trillion deficit which seems to be of no concern to anyone, including those from the president's party who wish to replace him who advocate even more entitlement spending.

For me, the shortcomings of the last eight years are embodied by Hillary Clinton, even more so than Obama himself. She is the ultimate bureaucrat. Has anyone so desperately desired to be taken seriously and uttered pronouncements so filled with mendacity? Responsible for everything that happened at State, accountable for nothing. Overseeing a bloated government agency, she claims no one could be fired because the ARB found no one was derelict. She appointed the ARB! By definition, there could be no dereliction because that would reflect poorly upon her.

No one was derelict? There's been so much of it over the last eight years, it now passes as normal and raises not an eyebrow.

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