In 1998, America saw President Bill Clinton impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction. While Clinton was spared by the cowards in the U.S. Senate, we never thought we’d see something like that again. Certainly, no Congress would want to go through another impeachment trial after the media thrashing, but even still, it was a dark time for the country and one hoped it would never reoccur.
Who would have thought that 16 years later we would look back on Bill Clinton’s crimes as being almost quaint. Barack Obama has taken lawlessness to a whole new level culminating in his illegal (though it’s debatable) deal to free an American “hostage” soldier in exchange for 5 dangerous Taliban criminals. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy says this goes beyond statues and veers straight into dereliction of duty.
As I demonstrate in Faithless Execution, high crimes and misdemeanors are not primarily statutory offenses. They are the political wrongs of high public officials—the president, in particular—in whom great public trust is reposed. When the commander-in-chief replenishes the enemy at a time when (a) the enemy is still attacking our forces and (b) the commander-in-chief has hamstrung our forces with unconscionable combat rules-of-engagement that compromise their ability to defend themselves, that is a profound dereliction of duty.
That’s what we ought to be outraged about. The chitter-chatter about a 30-day notice requirement is a sideshow. Yes, the president has once again violated a statute. And as I said in yesterday’s column, he undoubtedly did so in order to get the swap done before public and congressional protest could mount. But in the greater scheme of things, that’s a footnote to the real travesty.
Roger L. Simon: Barack Obama, Libertarian Manufacturing Machine
Twitchy: Sarah Silverman’s VadgeRag
Via House Democrat Whip, Steny Hoyer:
“I don’t think the message was wrong. I think the message was accurate. It was not precise enough…[it] should have been caveated with – ‘assuming you have a policy that in fact does do what the bill is designed to do.’”
Let this be our epitaph.
Years ago, I was in a Barnes & Noble (in the days when you could still find one) and I saw a book called “Richard Nixon: A Psychobiography.” The book purported to be a psychological portrait of President Nixon and, granted, his psyche I’m sure is an interesting study, but I passed on the book figuring it would be just more “Nixon was the devil, JFK was God” drivel that is crammed into the American History section.
Nevertheless, in the age of Obama, I have to think that our current president might make an interesting psychological case study for some impertinent (by liberal academic standards) researchers in the field. While Nixon was a man of many complexes and neurosis, with Obama, we may be witnesses to a pure, full-on God Complex. This term is defined as:
“….an unshakable belief characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility. A person with a god complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of complex or intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks, or may regard personal opinions as unquestionably correct. The individual may disregard the rules of society and require special consideration or privileges.
This notion was on full display today when President Obama stated, with regard to Syria:
“I didn’t set a red line, the world set a red line,” Obama said. “My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’s credibility’s on the line.”
EVAN THOMAS: Well, we were the good guys in 1984, it felt that way. It hasn’t felt that way in recent years. So Obama’s had, really, a different task We’re seen too often as the bad guys. And he – he has a very different job from – Reagan was all about America, and you talked about it. Obama is ‘we are above that now.’ We’re not just parochial, we’re not just chauvinistic, we’re not just provincial. We stand for something – I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world, he’s sort of God. He’s-
The red line is thicker than black-strap molasses but now, Secretary of State John Kerry (who served in Vietnam, by the by) is on the case:
“What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. … [It] is a moral obscenity,” he said Monday afternoon. “By any standard it is inexcusable … [and] it is undeniable,” he said in the State Department’s press room.
We’ll let them shoot 100k dead, but once they use gas we have to step in. What a great way to operate overseas.
— Eric (@eriContrarian) August 26, 2013
In fairness, most administrations get their dander up over WMD’s over mere gun violence, but the numbers are hard to ignore.
But don’t worry, Obama is cookin’ something up:
President Barack Obama did not made a statement today, and Kerry did not take questions.
Via The Washington Times:
In the wake of a rodeo clown’s anti-Obama skit this weekend, the Missouri State Fair is forcing all clowns to undergo sensitivity training.
The American people are with you even if our president is not. Funny how leftists only cry for democracy when a dictator is about to be toppled. Sometimes democracy needs a General Pinochet to give it a nudge.
Photo via euronews.com
UPDATE: Maybe I’m ignorant, but I’m not upset that there was a full-on military coup in Egypt like many conservatives. Joel Pollack writes:
What is missing from U.S. coverage of events in Egypt is any sense of history–and, perhaps a Burkean conservatism that realizes the folly of destroying institutions. The Muslim Brotherhood destroyed them, and now the military has destroyed them, too. This is a revolution in the French mould, not the American one–and while the departure of Morsi is much to be excited about, the way it happened ought to give greater pause.
His overall point is that the MSM is celebrating the coup and this stems from a leftist love of insurrection. Partly, but our media is a side-orientated machine. They go with emotion, which is another way of saying they don’t actually think about the ramifications.
Some liberals like Piers Morgan are upset as well:
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 3, 2013
I think we need to get a grip on what we call “democracy.” It’s often told that Hitler won the Chancellery of Germany via democratic means. This is true (despite I’m sure much intimidation at the polls). However, one of my rules of democracy is that any democratic act that installs an undemocratic government is then retroactively deemed an undemocratic act. For decades, Egypt was ruled by a pseudo-dictator who kept the Islamists in check while a fairly secular military (built by the United States) kept enemies at bay. When there was an uprising in 2011, the Islamists saw an opportunity and made the most of it. President Obama foolishly let Mubarrak fall due perhaps to rampant Muslim Brotherhood influence in his administration. Regardless of the reasoning, Egypt had it’s first real democratic elections and the Muslim Brotherhood came out on top. How they did it doesn’t really matter – what matters is everyone knew what they stood for: Sharia Law, i.e. Islamic tyranny. Once “elected,” the Muslim Brotherhood was not about to relinquish power via democratic means (and the signs were there immediately). It’s for this reason that I ask those lamenting the military coup, what other options were there? Once Hitler took power in 1933, could the German people have called for another election? No, the only way Hitler was going away was with a bullet.
Of course military coups are not ideal, but let’s not get so brainwashed by our definitions of “democracy” to think that electing dictators is something that should be respected.
“All countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing
circumstances . . . they are all artificial and temporary.” – Strobe Talbott
The recent scandal regarding the government surveillance program “Prism” and the preoccupation of Congress with amnesty for illegals are not separate stories, but in fact perfectly entwined.
If you paid attention in the 1990’s, you saw the phrase “New World Order” develop a significant amount of recognition. Ironically, it was President George H. W. Bush who would send the conspiracy worlds of the political left and right into hysterics when he used the phrase in a various speeches as the Soviet Union was breaking up and coalition forces drove Iraq out of Kuwait. His definition of the term seemed rather banal as he talked about everyone living in harmony, fighting for the weak, and other bromides. However, the term New World Order had been around for many years, used by such diverse world leaders at Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill. It also reminded people or the semi-real/semi-fictitious Illuminati.
Move ahead to the Clinton era and you had many foreign policy wonks dropping hints about one-world government such as the aforementioned Strobe Talbott. As James Pinkerton wrote in 1999:
To the Strobe Talbotts of the world, it’s more than a promise: It’s a career opportunity. The tragic irony of John Lennon’s life is that the man who sang about “nothing to kill or die for” in “Imagine” was himself killed by a deranged stalker in 1980; surely there are even more armed and dangerous people loose in the world today. That’s bad news for American taxpayers, not to mention American soldiers on the cutting edge of intervention. But for Talbott types, looking beyond their own petty borders for new venues to think big thoughts and make big pronouncements and undertake big missions, it’s a global-government dream come true.
But as we move on to 2013, the explanation is not so simple as mere “career opportunity.” What we are witnessing is a very carefully crafted plan centuries in the making. The people behind the “New World Order,” if you wish to call it that, are working toward a world without borders, and a world where everyone is indeed tracked.
We were shocked (but some of us, not that shocked) to find that the American government, while not necessary listening to every phone call or reading every email in the country, was indeed tracking every phone call and usage of the internet and then, so we’re told, using algorithms to look for patterns. However, while the government has been able to keep tabs on Tea Party members and Sharyl Attkisson, it somehow wasn’t able to find any red flags (or if it did, it didn’t care) regarding the Tsarnaev Brothers.
Meanwhile, Congress is dealing with the most pressing issue of our time [insert sarcastic inflection here]. More pressing than a stagnant economy, high unemployment, high gas prices or the threat of Islamic terrorism. No, the most important issue in the country appears to be immigration…more specifically the legalization of illegals. Why? Well, most importantly, it creates more Democrat Party votes thus allowing the march toward the fabled New World Order to continue. When Tea Partiers talk about securing the borders, the amnesty Gang of 8 says, “Oh yeah, we’ll totally do that, just as soon as we get all the illegals citizenship.” However, inside their heads, they’re thinking “Stupid fools! Not only are we not going to secure the borders, we’re going to eliminate the concept of borders.” This is what Schumer is thinking. Rubio, however, is much more idealistic and thinks he’s doing good for the downtrodden and will be rewarded for it. Stupid fools, indeed.
The part I always struggle with when it comes to the men and women that wish to enslave their fellow men to the yoke of authoritarian (at a minimum) government is “what’s the payoff?” I mean, everybody dies. Why does one get up in the morning saying “I’m gonna work to roll back freedom as much as possible so people will eventually live under a watchful eye for centuries, long after I’m dead and gone.”? What’s the point to this? Why not just makes enough money to retire, then go fishing?
Well, it’s all goes back to the beginning of civilization itself, and the concept is eventually documented by a man you may have heard of, that Greek monster, Plato.
But first, we should look at the very, very beginning. Speaking of the early Mesopotamian and Egyptian societies, Norman Kantor wrote in his excellent book The Civilization of the Middle Ages:
In these early societies there were, in essence, only two social groups, or “classes” (to use a term that has been central to aristocratic thought since the nineteenth century). One class was the elite: the aristocratic group that controlled both rural and urban wealth and dominated the religious institutions, the government, and the bureaucracy. The other class was a mass peasantry, who may or may not have been slaves, but in any case were bound to till the soil in the interests of the ruling elite. We have no reliable statistical information about these early societies—indeed, it is difficult to give social statistics for any period before the Middle Ages—but a safe estimate would be that the elite compromised 5 percent of the total population. The vast majority of the population, somewhere around 80 percent, belonged to the peasantry.
In short, most of the history of civilization has been rulers and slaves. The rulers became rulers because they were willing to risk death for power. They went beyond the natural instincts of survival to give their lives a “higher purpose.”
This concept is explored in the Francis Fukuyama’s landmark work The End of History and the Last Man. Fukuyama’s overall thesis would nevertheless be proven wrong and after 9/11 he would go down with his sinking ship, but that’s another story for another time. Nonetheless, his scholarship in the book is superb. Regarding the concept of “recognition” and the various words used to describe it (Plato’s “thymos”; Nietzsche’s “beast with red cheeks,” et al) Fukuyama writes:
All of these terms refer to that part of man which feels the need to place value on things—himself in the first instance, but on the people, actions, or things around him as well. It is part of the personality which is the fundamental source of the emotions of pride, anger, and shame, and is not reducible to desire, on the one hand, or reasons on the other. The desire for recognition is the most specifically political part of the human personality because it is what drives men to want to assert themselves over other men, and thereby into Kant’s condition of “asocial sociability.”
In other words, man has a desire to force his will onto others. We all have the desire, but obviously, it varies in degrees person to person.
This takes me to our ol’ buddy Plato, who introduced the idea of the Philosopher King. Put simply, Plato argued that philosophers, i.e. the smart guys, the guys that read lots of books, pondered concept like “what is beauty?” for countless hours and generally knew more about life than anyone else, should be the kings that ruled societies. The 20th Century philosopher Karl Popper would lambast Plato, Hegel and Marx arguing that their philosophies were the road to totalitarianism. Debatable, in the case of the first two, but most of the evidence proves this theory even if the men themselves weren’t totally totalitarian. The Ayatollah Khomeini is said to have been influenced by Plato’s philosopher kings concept (though solid proof is a big hazy).
I speak of all this heavy stuff to point out that man’s desire to rule man has always been with us and is still with us. Jonah Goldberg points out in a recent column that the libertarian philosophy (i.e. liberty, man answering to no man) is the only new concept in recent history:
That phrase, “the wave of the future,” became famous thanks to a 1940 essay by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She argued that the time of liberal democratic capitalism was drawing to a close and the smart money was on statism of one flavor or another — fascism, Communism, socialism, etc. What was lost on her, and millions of others, was that this wasn’t progress toward the new, but regression to the past. These “waves of the future” were simply gussied-up tribalisms, anachronisms made gaudy with the trappings of modernity, like a gibbon in a spacesuit.
The only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years is this libertarian idea, broadly understood. The revolution wrought by John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and the Founding Fathers is the only real revolution going. And it’s still unfolding.
The failure of Fukuyama’s thesis is his argument that ideological history is linear. Written as the Soviet Union crumbled, The End of History argued that liberal democracy had won the day, defeating all other political philosophies and, with no other concepts on the horizon, it was thus “the end of history.”
I have reached the conclusion that history is not linear but cyclical. As in nature, we have life and death, sunrise and sunset. Man is born a slave but eventually throws off his shackles, only to be enslaved again. From Athens to America and France, liberty was achieved and is now slipping away, but the free man will rise again…perhaps now or perhaps 100 years from now.
This brings me finally to George Orwell and 1984. Recent events concerning the IRS and the NSA have led to a recent spike in the novel’s sales. We’re not where Winston Smith found himself just yet, but said events lead many to believe we’re on our way. If so, what can we do about it? Well first, let’s understand what Big Brother wants from us. What may surprise you is that this was encapsulated in a simple scene from the movie Office Space. Watch closely:
Do you see what’s going on here? It’s not enough for Jen Aniston to simply do as the boss tells her to do. He wants her to agree with and be devoted to the concept of “pieces of flair” like that complete tool, Brian. It was the same with Winston Smith. It wasn’t enough that he should obey…he must also love Big Brother…and in the end (spoiler alert!) he found that he truly loved Big Brother as the long hoped-for bullet entered his brain.
So what can we do in this age of encroaching government? One word: defiance. By defiance, I don’t mean act like those Code Pink mutants and dress up like vaginas and shout during Congressional hearings. What I mean is defiance in the way you live your life. Big Brother plays “long ball.” He’ll work as long as it takes to make you love him. But if you let him know you’re ready to play long ball as well, he can never win. Put up an American flag, go to a Sarah Palin rally, give money to the Tea Party–not on the sly, but in the hope that Big Brother does notice. Let him try and scare you and let him know no matter how many audits or tapped phones you are subjected to, he’ll never have your mind, he’ll never have your love.
You want to fight this out for centuries? Game on.
Nick Gillespie, the Fonzie of the libertarian movement, has an article today in The Daily Beast(!) lamenting how the public is okay with Big Brother as long as he is of the right party affiliation. Again, not that shocking.
In January 2006, Pew Research asked whether it was OK to collect info on “people suspected of involvement with terrorism by secretly listening in on telephone calls and reading emails between some people in the United States and other countries, without first getting court approval to do so.” A slim majority of all respondents—51 percent—said yes while 47 percent said no.
The partisan breakdown, however, was vastly different, with 75 percent of Republicans finding it acceptable and just 23 percent dissenting. When it came the Democrats, only 37 percent of Democrats signed off on NSA snooping, with a whopping 61 percent saying screw off.
Fast-forward to June 2013, when a Democrat occupies the Oval Office after an easy reelection and his party controls the Senate. Pew asked respondents whether it’s OK that the NSA “has been getting secret court orders to track telephone calls of millions of Americans in an effort to investigate terrorism.” This time around, it’s Democrats who overwhelmingly support collecting collecting yottabytes and exabytes of metadata on us all, with 64 percent saying they are totally fine with NSA surveillance programs and a measly 34 percent disagreeing. Among Republicans, enthusiasm for eye-in-the-sky surveillance has taken a major hit, with only 52 percent agreeing and 47 percent saying no.
Too true, but we can’t dismiss partisanship out of hand. Principles should be the utmost, but when you vote for a president, the trust issue has to play a role, or at least, it should. While George W. Bush was very much a big-government Republican, I didn’t have much fear that he would monitor my phone conversations unless I started hanging out with Hezbollah…nor did I fear that he would use the IRS to punish his political enemies. Didn’t seem like that kind of guy. With Obama and/or Hillary, I knew such actions were possible if not probable. In fact, Hillary already has a rap-sheet full of such nefarious activities.
Nevertheless, Gillespie is correct that we are put too much trust in “our guys” over staying true to our principles even when we run the show. However, I think the lack of outrage on a grand scale over Prism and the IRS targeting is cultural in nature. We’ve been trained to believe that this was going on all along. George Orwell introduced the possibility…since then we’ve been inundated with movies like The Truman Show, Minority Report, The Bourne series…and going back a ways, the masterpiece work of Francis Ford Coppola, The Conversation. Couple this with non-stop cable documentaries on Area 51, UFO conspiracies and the like and you have a public that receives the recent news with a knowing shrug.
So Gillespie says we need to be more principled and less partisan. Yes, but I would also advise folks to call the government’s bluff, whether it’s a bluff or not. At this point in the game, we’re not where Winston Smith was. Right now, you should show yourself to the cameras. Let them see what you do and think. Put a sign up that says “Lindsey Graham, Come Out of the Closet!” or “Wacko Birds of the World, Unite!” Let them know where you stand and let them come after you. When that happens, expose them. Look, I gave Mitt Romney $300 in 2012. It’s already established that if I ever need a lung-transplant or something like that under Obamacare, it’s not happening. Knowing that, I might as well spend what freedom I have left being defiant against tyranny.