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Capricious Enforcement: A sign of the times

Back in October 2010, blogger Tigerhawk recalled what one of his Princeton classmates, who was originally from Romania, said about the nature of life under socialism:

One recurring tool of socialist tyranny is the capricious enforcement of unworkable laws.

He quoted the passage in making a point about the “capricious enforcement” which was an inevitable feature of the unworkable mess better known as Obamacare.

But two and a half years later, it’s evident that observation could just as easily have been applied to our byzantine tax code, our environmental regulations, and even laws pertaining to press freedoms under the Obama administration.  As Dan wrote earlier today, the only folks who are surprised by any of these scandals are the ones who haven’t been paying attention to what has been going with our government since January 20, 2009.

In the case of the Obama administration, though, it’s not strictly capricious enforcement, but selective enforcement, always with a partisan goal in mind.  The IRS targeting of the Tea Party and conservative organizations is appalling, but one would have to be naive not to believe, as ABC’s Trey Hardin noted today, that it wasn’t authorized by someone in the West Wing.  Hardin observed (audio at the link):

I will tell you this on the IRS front. I’ve worked in this town for over 20 years in the White House and on Capitol Hill and I can say with a very strong sense of certainty that there are people very close to this president that not only knew what the IRS were doing but authorized it. It simply just does not happen at an agency level like that without political advisers likely in the West Wing certainly connected to the president’s ongoing campaign organization.

And it’s not just the IRS.  Earlier today it came out that the EPA waived fees for leftist organizations and leftist journalists who requested information, but not for conservative ones:   “Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.”  Yes, this would be the same EPA that has classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant, making the mere act of exhaling potentially troublesome.

A coincidence?  I think not.  This is the same administration committed to picking winners and losers on most matters.  Hence, it should surprise no one that while oil companies are prosecuted for the deaths of eagles and other protected species, the bird-killing wind farms are naturally given a pass.   Clearly, some energy companies are more equal than others.

It’s the same with journalists.  Just a day after the AP snooping scandal broke, the administration is playing favorites again.  Jake Tapper has gained a reputation as one who can be counted on to ask tough questions of the White House with greater frequency than the reporters at most of the other lamestream news organizations.  Well, today Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection is reporting that the White House played Jake Tapper by selectively leaking one e-mail with the apparent aim of creating a diversion in the reporting about the Benghazi cover-up.  Jacobson writes: “Like I said, this entire diversion of leaking a single email out of a chain of emails to Tapper was simply meant to put critics of the administration back on their heels and to provide an excuse for White House defenders to throw around words like ‘doctored.'”

And so what else do we see today?  Well, all of a sudden the administration’s lackeys in the press such as Hilary Rosen are now out expressing their sympathy for poor Jay Carney.  I guess they’re afraid of ending up as the subject of a DOJ snooping scandal or an IRS investigation or a selective leak.


The only people surprised by the Obama snooping scandals. . .

. . . are those who, to borrow a political expression from the left, haven’t been paying attention.

Many of us on the right have long been pointing out that Barack Obama cut his teeth in Chicago politics and long practiced the politics for which that city is famous.  Or perhaps, I should say, infamous.

The only folks in the media who believed the Democrat’s lofty rhetoric about being some new kind of politician were those who repeated his campaign’s, uh, well, talking points and gave short shrift to his actual record.  That is, they took his claims at face value and didn’t investigate his claims.

No wonder they didn’t do much investigating when Tea Party groups started complaining that the IRS was subjecting them to an unusual degree of scrutiny.  Such government behavior didn’t correspond to their image of an open and accountable administration.  The story is not a new one.  The enhanced media attention is.

UPDATE:  From Glenn Reynolds:  “JIM TREACHER: ‘The only difference between this week and every other week for the last 4 years is that for once we’re not the only ones paying attention.’”

Yup, pretty much.

NB:  Tweaked the post to fix some typographical and grammatical errors.

Leading Democrats teach the opposite of the Constitution

Speaking to students at Ohio State University on May 5, President Obama said:

Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham, with which we can’t be trusted.

Obama said, in effect: Disregard people who worry about tyranny. We can have government do the things that they warn against, without it being tyranny, because we are such wonderful people – so well-intentioned – that it isn’t tyranny, when we do it.

Get it? So, when Obama has his administration lie to Americans so he can win re-election, or when he takes an increasing share of people’s incomes, or requires people to engage in private commerce that he happens to want (Obamacare mandate), or eliminates their rightful choices in the free market, or uses the IRS to obstruct his opponents and violate their privacy, or uses the Justice Department to snoop on reporters, or uses the EPA to extort fees from opponents (that progressive groups don’t have to pay – hat tip V the K), it’s not tyranny. Because it’s Obama doing it, and by his account, he can be trusted.

But the Framers of the constitution thought otherwise. They believed in checks and balances. They *were* those people who “warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.” They founded America, by “gumming up the works.”

Perhaps Obama doesn’t know that the Framers set up the United States as a republic under a limited government, precisely because they knew that all governments tend to degenerate into tyranny. Or perhaps Obama is unaware of his own party’s President Andrew Jackson, who said that “eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty.”

Obama implies that people who warn us of tyranny are distrustful nihilists. Our only choice, Obama implies, is between continuing the crony-social-fascist gargoyle of a government that he now leads – and harmful anarchy. A typical Obama false choice (flowing from a typical Obama straw man), I’m pretty sure it has the Framers rolling in their graves.

So much for Obama. But there’s more! Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee recently said: (more…)

Only the president can end the Benghazi “sideshow”

And he can do simply by insisting officials on his time do what he promised, on his first full day in office, he would do:  by being transparent, by answering the various questions congressional leaders, reporters and pundits have been asking.

As you may know, yesterday, in his joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Obama “dismissed criticism over the White House’s handling of the attack in Benghazi, calling the focus on the issue a ‘sideshow,’ and said any suggestion that the administration is engaging in a cover-up ‘defies logic.’

There is only one way for the president to show that he’s not covering anything up and that’s to uncover the information about which his critics (and even some of his allies) have questions.

Such questions include:

  • Who decided not to provide additional security for our mission in Benghazi despite repeated requests from those on the ground there?  Why?
  • Who in the White House and State Department was involved in revising the Benghazi talking points and scrubbing them of terror references?  Was the Secretary of State aware of these revisions?  Was the president?
  • Why did the president and Secretary of State rely on these talking points in various public appearances in the weeks following the attack even when there was clear evidence that the protests were neither spontaneous nor were they caused by the video in question?

Perhaps, people might be less cynical about government today if, instead of lashing out at Republicans, President Obama insisted that his appointees answer their questions. (more…)