“All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton
It should come as no surprise that President Obama told Ohio State students at graduation ceremonies last week that they should not question authority and they should reject the calls of those who do. He argued that “our brave, creative, unique experiment in self-rule” has been so successful that trusting the government is the same as trusting ourselves; hence, challenging the government is the same as challenging ourselves. And he blasted those who incessantly warn of government tyranny.
Yet, mistrust of government is as old as America itself. America was born out of mistrust of government. The revolution that was fought in the 1770s and 1780s was actually won in the minds of colonists in the mid-1760s when the British imposed the Stamp Act and used writs of assistance to enforce it. The Stamp Act required all persons in the colonies to have government-sold stamps on all documents in their possession, and writs of assistance permitted search warrants written by British troops in which they authorized themselves to enter private homes ostensibly to look for the stamps.
These two pieces of legislation were so unpopular here that Parliament actually rescinded the Stamp Act, and the king’s ministers reduced the use of soldier-written search warrants. But the searches for the stamps turned the tide of colonial opinion irreversibly against the king.
The same king also prosecuted his political adversaries in Great Britain and here for what he called “seditious libel” — basically, criticizing the government.
Thomas Jefferson . . . warned that it is the nature of government over time to increase and of liberty to decrease. And that’s why we should not trust government. In the same era, James Madison himself agreed when he wrote, “All men having power should be distrusted to a certain degree.”
Actually, we’re not having a debate about taking sides in Syria’s civil war. That’s the problem. We’re debating Syria as though it’s an engineering question—an electrical outage, or a bit of erosion in the backyard. Doing so removes the most vexing aspects of the issue, leading us to the delusion that military action can easily make things better.
Too much of the discussion has focused on moral arguments and too little of it on the very real political problems beneath the war.
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In the 1990s, realists like Richard Betts were warning Americans not to fall victim to the “delusion of impartial intervention.” Admonishing policymakers for their newfound enthusiasm for limited, ostensibly apolitical intervention, Betts reminded readers of a ground truth: “A war will not end until both sides agree who will control whatever is in dispute.” This is as true in Syria as it is anywhere. Alternatively, if analysts want to use the U.S. military to regime-change Assad, they have every obligation to explain how they intend to shepherd the country toward whatever political order they seek.
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Anyone who doesn’t deal with the underlying political problems at stake is threatening to push the country into another ill-considered, potentially costly war.
The Obama administration will have a hard time cobbling together even a modicum of popular support for the (inevitable, IMO) U.S. military intervention into Syria without a re-mobilization of that once-noisy but recently scarce tribe of armchair agitators known as the Liberal Hawks. Right on cue comes Bill Keller in today’s New York Times, making the argument that “Syria Is Not Iraq.” Which is, I suppose, a much more succinct headline than “Listen to Me About Bombing a Middle Eastern Country in 2013 Even Though I Was Totally Wrong About it in 2003.”
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You would think that “getting over Iraq” would also mean getting over the elementary school-style argumentation about war demonstrating “credibility” and seriousness, but perhaps it’s unsporting to stand between a man and his epiphanies.
Eighteen Starbucks shops can be found in the three-mile walk from DuPont Circle to the U.S. Capitol. Not one of them had a line less than seven people deep on a recent Wednesday afternoon.
Twenty-one construction sites filled with workers on girders and cranes towering over whole city blocks can be found on the same walk.
Commerce bursts from every angle of this city: small businesses packed with shoppers, hair salons charging more than the monthly mortgage payment on my first house for a cut-and-blow-dry, and main as well as side streets clogged with traffic.
America’s capital seems bubble-wrapped in its own vibrant economic boom, while great chunks of the nation struggle with uncertainty about how to keep the engine going.
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The centralized power and wealth in our nation’s capital are becoming so disconnected from the rest of this country that it is palpable to everyone except those who live in Washington.
In most people’s lives, the driving issue is economic security. Washington’s obsession is with social and cultural issues that drive bigger wedges between Us and Them.
It’s only a matter of time before the rest of America’s complaints will burst Washington’s bubble.
It used to seem shocking that five of the ten richest counties in the United States were part of the DC Metropolitan Statistical Area, but the 2011 American Community Survey numbers released yesterday show that the DC suburbs now account for seven of the ten richest counties in America.
Loudon, Fairfax, and Arlington in Virginia lead the way followed by Hunterdon County, NJ then Howard County in Maryland; Somerset, NJ; Prince William and Fauquier in Virginia; Douglas, CO; and Montgomery County, MD.
“Everybody in the mission” in Benghazi, Libya, thought the attack on a U.S. consulate there last Sept. 11 was an act of terror “from the get-go,” according to excerpts of an interview investigators conducted with the No. 2 official in Libya at the time, obtained by CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
“I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning,” Greg Hicks, a 22-year foreign service diplomat who was the highest-ranking U.S. official in Libya after the strike, told investigators under authority of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Hicks, the former U.S. Embassy Tripoli deputy chief of mission, was not in Benghazi at the time of the attack, which killed Chris Stevens – then the U.S. ambassador to Libya – and three other Americans.
When he appears this week before the committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Hicks is expected to offer testimony at odds with what some American officials were saying in public – and on “Face the Nation” – just five days after the attack. Benghazi whistleblowers have rallied attention to discrepancies among the administration’s reaction to the attack, which The Weekly Standard suggests was frayed by ever-evolving talking points that sought to remove references to al Qaeda.
On Sept. 16, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice hit the media circuit, appearing on all five Sunday talk shows to dispel the notion that the strike was a premeditated terrorist act and to perpetuate the case that it began “spontaneously” out of protests in Egypt. Rice’s spot on “Face the Nation” that day was preceded by the new President of Libya Mohammed al-Magariaf, who said his government had “no doubt that this was preplanned, predetermined.”
This week, CNN interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone calls between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his wife. Clemente stated that the FBI had ways of accessing those calls, and that all calls are recorded.
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CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”
On the night of Sept. 11, as the Obama administration scrambled to respond to the Benghazi terror attacks, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a key aide effectively tried to cut the department’s own counterterrorism bureau out of the chain of reporting and decision-making, according to a “whistle-blower” witness from that bureau who will soon testify to the charge before Congress, Fox News has learned.
That witness is Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for operations in the agency’s counterterrorism bureau. Sources tell Fox News Thompson will level the allegation against Clinton during testimony on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
Fox News has also learned that another official from the counterterrorism bureau — independently of Thompson — voiced the same complaint about Clinton and Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy to trusted national security colleagues back in October.
No matter what happens with Darrell Issa’s congressional committee meetings this week, we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the Obama administration, and the cause is Benghazi. It’s impossible to overestimate the blowback that has been gathering steam for the past seven months, now about to erupt with full force. Few reputations will emerge unscathed, Obama’s presidency will be crippled, Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 candidacy will be destroyed — and perhaps some new heroes will be born.
The Air Force official in charge of its sexual-assault prevention program was arrested for groping, authorities said Monday.
Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, 41, was removed from his position as head of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office pending an investigation, the Air Force said.
The incident happened just after midnight Sunday when a drunken Krusinski allegedly approached the woman in a parking lot in Arlington, Va., and grabbed her breasts and buttocks, according to a police report.
Police said the woman fought off her assailant and scratches can be seen on Krusinski’s face in his mug shot. He was charged with sexual battery.
It’s time for a free-market corporate social responsibility. Conservatives who rail against government hand-outs should also blast companies who seek shelter from Washington.
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The Republican attack on President Obama’s economic policy has changed subtly, but significantly, in the last three years. In 2009, he was allegedly a “socialist” and a “Marxist” who lusted for government control of the entire economy. But lately, that has given way to more nuanced charges of “crony capitalism” — of giving special, friendly treatment to certain companies and industries, or allowing powerful corporations to essentially write the laws, themselves.
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Voters despise government officials who get in bed with corporations. But what about corporations who cozy up to government? Are companies who use cronyism to grow their profit acting unethically?
The question makes some free-marketeers uneasy. After all, we not only tolerate the fierce pursuit of profit, but also we defend it against taxes and heavy-handed regulation. Milton Friedman famously said, “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.”
But in the age of crony capitalism, libertarians must declare that some means of pursuing profit are immoral and call on executives to reject them. This would create a positive case for capitalism — arguing that the pursuit of profit, in the context of fair and open competition, helps the whole society. The new corporate social responsibility, redefined for libertarians, must stand athwart crony corporatism yelling “stop.”
The president undermines that chance when he struggles through a news conference with no apparent theme or overarching purpose other than to catalog his grievances and complain about the lack of cooperation from the other side.
This may well have been the opposite impression from what the president and his people hoped to convey this week. But it happened anyway. Well into his fifth year in the White House, this president still seems ill at ease in the news conference format. He is driven by the energy and conflict of the encounter, rather than the other way around.
This lack of mastery stands in striking contrast to his renown for holding throngs in thrall, at home and abroad. Even in the informality of a Washington dinner (), Obama is a gifted presenter, holding forth with the timing and wit of a professional comedian and then turning reflective and serious. Addressing an audience, he is nearly always on.
A legend in his own mind and in the minds of the lamestream media. Plus, nothing to lecture the rubes or preen about.
The emperor has no clothes.
A revealing new book from one of media’s longest-serving White House correspondents reports that President Obama surrounds himself only with “idolizers,” and top aides make sure that those whose views might “shake him up too much” are shoved aside.
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He called top Chicago aide Valerie Jarrett “one of the leading idolizers” who blocks the access of critics to her boss. “Jarrett has gone too far in limiting others’ access to the president, according to a number of White House and congressional sources,” writes Walsh in the book, due out June 1. “Her goal is to keep Obama in a cocoon of admirers who won’t, in her mind, shake him up too much or present views that might be contrary to her understanding of Obama’s positions.”
Democratic pollster Peter Hart told Walsh that Obama is more a performer than seasoned politician. “He likes performing. He likes crowds,” said the pollster. But Hart added that Obama’s White House is too distant from those in Congress who can help him. “It’s closed. It’s insular. It’s shut out.”
Power constrains because it entails responsibility, and Alinskyite tactics are designed to take advantage of those constraints for the benefit of the powerless. Such tactics have backfired on Obama repeatedly because he seems not to understand that they are ill-suited to power politics.
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Obama has actually never “been adept at marshaling public support” except in his election campaigns. His gun-control speeches “drew wide praise” from people who already agreed with what he said, and that praise was deafeningly loud because the praisers include most people with media megaphones [ed. "courtiers"].
Forced lockdown of a city. Militarized police riding tanks in the streets. Door-to-door armed searches without warrant. Families thrown out of their homes at gunpoint to be searched without probable cause. Businesses forced to close. Transport shut down.
These were not the scenes from a military coup in a far off banana republic, but rather the scenes just over a week ago in Boston as the United States got a taste of martial law. The ostensible reason for the military-style takeover of parts of Boston was that the accused perpetrator of a horrific crime was on the loose. The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city. This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself.
What has been sadly forgotten in all the celebration of the capture of one suspect and the killing of his older brother is that the police state tactics in Boston did absolutely nothing to catch them. While the media crowed that the apprehension of the suspects was a triumph of the new surveillance state – and, predictably, many talking heads and Members of Congress called for even more government cameras pointed at the rest of us – the fact is none of this caught the suspect. Actually, it very nearly gave the suspect a chance to make a getaway.
In the aftermath of the terrorist bombing—no lesser word will do—at the Boston Marathon, a major debate has broken out over the proper law enforcement procedures in two key areas: general surveillance and targeted searches. Many insist that a general right to privacy should limit the first, and that concern with racial and ethnic profiling should limit the second. Both of these overinflated concerns should be stoutly resisted.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi was emphatic. Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his personal tax returns, she said, makes him unfit to win confirmation as a member of the president’s Cabinet, let alone to hold the high office himself.
Sen. Harry Reid went farther: Romney’s refusal to make public more of his tax records makes him unfit to be a dogcatcher.
They do not, however, think that standard of transparency should apply to them. The two Democratic leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives are among hundreds of senators and representatives from both parties who refused to release their tax records. Just 17 out of the 535 members of Congress released their most recent tax forms or provided some similar documentation of their tax liabilities in response to requests from McClatchy over the last three months. Another 19 replied that they wouldn’t release the information, and the remainder never responded to the query.
The widespread secrecy in one branch of the government suggests a self-imposed double standard. Yet while American politics has come to expect candidates for the presidency to release their tax returns, the president isn’t alone in having a say over the nation’s tax laws. Congress also stands to gain or lose by the very tax policies it enacts, and tax records – more than any broad financial disclosure rules now in place – offer the chance to see whether the leaders of the government stand to benefit from their own actions.
“Senior public officials, especially members of Congress and presidential candidates, should be required to disclose their tax returns so that the public can monitor potential conflicts of interest,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a nonpartisan watchdog group.