Someone I’ve known for a long time who formerly didn’t follow current events or politics very closely used to ask me, “Are we still okay?” when particularly disturbing news items would make the headlines. My response until the late 1990s was usually a slightly overconfident, “Sure. This is a great country. We can handle this.”
That person hasn’t asked me that question for many years. We both know, as do millions of other Americans, that we haven’t been okay for some time and that the foundations supporting what has made this country so exceptional for so very long are crumbling.
We stopped being okay over a decade ago. In 1998, the country’s president repeatedly lied under oath in front of the American people. As George Will correctly asserted in January 2001: “There is no reasonable doubt that he committed and suborned perjury, tampered with witnesses and otherwise obstructed justice.” Additionally, credible allegations surfaced that, as Will noted, made it “reasonable to believe that he was a rapist 15 years before becoming president.” The failure of the United States Senate to remove Bill Clinton from office was a landmark defeat for the rule of law. Clinton himself didn’t merely survive impeachment; he has since thrived not in spite of it, but arguably because of it.
From that point forward, those whose stated agenda is to undermine this country’s essence knew that if they could only achieve sufficient power, they could probably get away with just about anything.
Meanwhile, over at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Democratic Party cronies were already a half-dozen years into executing the first prong of their strategic offensive targeting the ruin of the housing industry, the financial sector, and ultimately the economy. Beginning in 1993, Fan and Fred systematically deceived the bond rating agencies and defrauded investors by seriously exaggerating the quality of the mortgage loans underlying their debt securities. Then, mere months after the Senate failed to carry out its constitutional duty with Mr. Clinton, Fannie Mae announced that it would begin serving as a conduit for loans to unqualified and undeserving borrowers. Fan and Fred, which followed a short time later, facilitated hundreds of billions of dollars in such risky loans.
Thus, in November 2008, assisted by the crisis Fan and Fred primarily created (which conveniently had come to a head just two months earlier), millions of dollars in unaccounted-for campaign contributions (many of them more than likely from foreign sources), an ineffective opponent, and a derelict Fourth Estate, Barack Obama won the presidency.
After only seventeen months in office, the rule of law, where it hasn’t been routed, hangs by a mere thread.
One of the earliest assaults came when the administration and its car czars took control of financially insolvent General Motors and Chrysler, and then orchestrated bankruptcy plans that deliberately shortchanged disfavored creditors to the benefit of the companies’ unions. Columnist Michael Barone characterized the campaign of intimidation against certain of Chrysler’s secured lenders as an “episode of Gangster Government.” Barone wrote that it was “likely to be part of a continuing series.”
Sadly, Barone has been vindicated in more ways than can be counted. The most visible, and most risible, is the $20 billion BP shakedown.
That the government has incompetently thwarted most attempts to keep the oil from the company’s incapacitated rig from reaching shore is beyond dispute. The most blatant failure was reported at Canada’s Financial Post:
Three days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, the Netherlands offered the U.S. government ships equipped to handle a major spill … each Dutch ship (had) more cleanup capacity than all the ships that the U.S. was then employing in the Gulf to combat the spill. …
The voracious Dutch vessels … continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. (But) nearly oil-free isn’t good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million — if water isn’t at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.
Incredibly, U.S. regulators would rather have hundreds of square miles of water and priceless shoreline polluted than contain the spill with equipment that might allow slightly less than perfect water back into the Gulf of Mexico.
When Venezuela’s state-run grocery chain recently allowed tens of thousand of metric tons of food to rot, Hugo Chavez’s solution was to conduct raids on privately run grocers, confiscating replacement goods as punishment for trumped-up charges of hoarding and gouging. When the Obama administration by its own inaction allowed a serious problem at a single oil rig to turn into an economic and environmental catastrophe, it conducted a demonizing blitz against BP that culminated with a $20 billion raid on the company’s treasury. Obama’s action is in substance far more lawless than the authoritarian Venezuelan’s raids.
Meanwhile, the press’s alleged watchdogs have turned into cheerleaders. David Sanger at the New York Times gleefully described Obama’s reestablishment of “command and control,” adoringly celebrated “the use of raw presidential power” against BP, and shamelessly excused the president’s unilateral action:
(The White House) conceded that Mr. Obama had no legal basis to force BP to create the $20 billion fund; they said he was making a moral argument, and used the jawboning power of the presidential pulpit to push the company.
Pravda in its Communist heyday couldn’t have outdone Mr. Sanger.
With the establishment press asleep and the blogosphere still in its investigative reporting infancy, imagine what we can’t see, and won’t see. Mark Levin raised the warning flag about this over a year ago:
Do you know how much of this must be going on in the shadows, with the banks and the financial systems? What must be going on with one business after another, threatening them, warning them, punishing them?
Now imagine what the statists in government can accomplish to further their agenda and stifle dissent in their arbitrary and largely unappealable rulings on what is and isn’t a “grandfathered” employer health care plan; what is or isn’t acceptable executive pay; and now, with the imminent passage of what Investors Business Daily called “financial deform,” which “financial services” firms, no matter how currently healthy, should be taken over for taking on too much “risk.”
What we have is institutionalized gangster government. There’s a single word for it — and it’s not okay.