Tyranny, But No Tyrant

Our Federal government has become tyrannical - but Obama is no tyrant.

News of government cupidity, malfeasance and just plain evil is pouring across the interwebs faster than we can keep track of it.  The scandals at the IRS, the Justice Department, the NSA and more are enough to give anyone a headache.

That's not so unusual these days.  What is perplexing - to sound a bit like Donald Rumsfeld - is that we don't just not know exactly what went on, we do not know how we can know what went on, is probably still going on, and odds are will continue to go on no matter how much huffing and puffing We the People or our elected representatives bloviate.

Consider the IRS.  We know that politically-motivated IRS auditors were putting Tea Party groups through the bureaucratic equivalent of a rectal exam while whisking liberal groups through with the speed of an onset of diarrhea.  We also have every reason to suspect that both the White House and the IRS' representatives lied about the timeline: Obama said he only learned about the problems when he read it in the papers, and yet his chief lawyer, the General Counsel, was told weeks if not months before.

That does not mean that Obama told the IRS to put his political enemies under the microscope; he didn't have to.  Ordering something unlawful and evil is potentially impeachable; not stopping someone from doing something bad on their own is mere bad management, or so the White House claims.

Do we have any reason to believe that the IRS is going to change their ways?  A handful of IRS agents have been reassigned; the most notorious one, Lois Lerner, pled the Fifth Amendment rather than testify to Congress and was "punished" with paid administrative leave.  How does a free paid vacation sound to you?  If that's the worst that can happen, why wouldn't they keep merrily on with their Inquisition, given that they inherently dislike anyone who calls for less government spending?

Then there's the question of privacy and exactly how much government snooping is going on.  The press has reported that the government has a direct tap into the massive archives of all your personal data stored by giant corporations such as Google and Facebook.  Those companies are ferociously denying the accusations, but apparently aren't legally permitted to prove their innocence because whatever requests the NSA makes are under legal seal.

When The Truth Can't Out

Suppose they weren't kept from coming clean?  Suppose Google and Facebook did a big press conference and revealed all the data they provided to the government.  How do we know it's true?  How can we trust them?

For that matter, how can they trust themselves?  The Google Office of General Counsel isn't going to personally see all the NSA traffic; he and his team probably don't have the technical ability even to look into Google's databanks for themselves.

It's not merely plausible but probable that if any serious snooping was going on, it was at a much lower level by employees who can easily be intimidated by the mighty force of governmental power.  That's exactly what Eric Snowden alleges - and once again, it is absolutely impossible for any of us to know whether he's a whistleblower or a fraud.

It doesn't help when government officials feel comfortable lying to Congress.  Just a few days ago, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper directly and baldly lied under oath when answering a question from a Congressman:

Back at an open congressional hearing on March 12, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied, “No sir … not wittingly.” As we all now know, he was lying.

In point of fact, the NSA is collecting "data on hundreds of millions of Americans" - records of everyone you've ever called, when, where, and how long.  There are possible arguments as to why this is necessary and appropriate; Mr. Clapper didn't bother to make them.  He didn't even decline to answer on the grounds that it was classified, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez did in 2006 when asked a similar question.

No, he just up and lied to Congress and the American people, daring them to call him on it.  Now he's been called on it.  Nothing's happened to him, not even administrative leave!

Stop Blaming Obama

Here is where you are probably expecting a screed about the evils of Barack Obama.  No doubt the President doesn't particularly mind that the IRS was putting Tea Partiers through the wringer.  He probably doesn't much care that the NSA wants to be the secret police; after all, his own group "Organizing for America" or whatever it's called this week has similar goals and technology.

But these scandals were not Obama's doing any more than the economic collapse was Bush's doing.  These abuses go back many decades, long before anyone had heard of either those politicians.  For instance, the IRS may have refused to target Nixon's liberal enemies when he asked it to - but it eagerly helped FDR and JFK kneecap their conservative enemies.

Getting rid of Barack Obama, as pleasurable as that would be, will not help this country in the long term.  Replacing him with a Republican might keep things from getting worse, but there have been Republican presidents more recently than FDR and JFK and yet, as we see, IRS abuses only grow.  George W. Bush might have been unwise to sign the Patriot Act, but the author of that act, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, says it authorizes nothing resembling what the NSA is doing now.  He claims it was specifically written to forbid what NSA now admits doing, and who would know better than he?

It is increasingly clear that we are indeed living in a tyranny or something perilously close to it.  What we don't have is a proper tyrant.  We are not in a situation where a few days of protest and some help from the military will send the dictator off to posh exile in a banana republic and grant freedom to the masses.

We are in a far worse, vastly more difficult situation: Over the past half-century, we have permitted our entire Federal government as a whole to become decoupled from any form of political control, popular influence, or even a sense of ethics and decency.  Much of the time this frightening independence is obscured because bureaucratic interests are aligned with the Democrats.  Bureaucrats and Democrats both want to raise taxes, spend as much as humanly possible, and then a bit more.

When it comes down to actual control, however, elected Democrats have no more real influence than elected Republicans.  The bureaucracy does as it pleases and that's that.

First, Kill The Bureaucrats?

When you have a massively overgrown, infinitely intrusive, well-organized but highly diffuse bureaucracy dedicated to a particular totalist political perspective but without any particular human leader of any kind, how can you stop it?  Long ago we wrote laws preventing politicians from firing 99% of Federal employees.  Our Constitution provides sufficient protection for the accused as to make sure that artful official evildoers can never be held to account, as when Ms. Lerner pled the Fifth.  Assuming she wasn't stupid enough to write a memo ordering her minions to be biased according to the political beliefs she knew perfectly well they already had, there's no admissible evidence that could lead to proper punishment and never will be.

It might seem like the bureaucracy is absolutely immune to any checks of any kind, but history shows that isn't so; the trouble is that applying those checks is pretty horrific for ordinary people.  There are entirely too many examples of countries whose bureaucracies became so large and intractable that they were conquered by enemies or collapsed in chaos and poverty, from China's everlasting Confucian Cycle to the Byzantines who had no money to maintain their military because corrupt bureaucrats stole it just as ours are beginning to do.

We talk about impossible bureaucratic red tape as "Byzantine."  If we don't do something fast, we'll end up in Byzantine fashion, conquered by outsiders.  Considering the way freedom has increased in China over the past 30 years, wouldn't it be ironic if in another 30 years being conquered by the Chinese would lead to an increase in freedom for us too?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Bureaucracy.
Reader Comments

As usual, your article is dead-on. In your last paragraph you mention "doing something;" What can we do? Can you come up with another awesome article outlining even the beginnings of how to stop this madness? Life was meant for living, not worrying, which is all we know how to do. We need some help from some smart people like you.

June 18, 2013 1:32 PM

What to do?
I will make a suggestion, if I may.
A number of States have enacted laws nullifying some of the Federal laws that are outside the Constitution. That is the States taking back some of the power that was granted by the Constitution. Power that was granted to the States by the people.
It is at the local level that we will take our government back. But we had best get to it, while we have a country to govern. The plan by the U. N. is to break the United States up into 10 territories. We have read of the governors being brought under control of the Feds. We can change that if we take the local governments back under our power.
We don't have to wait for another election. We can start now, and in Las Vegas, Nevada it has started. We have groups that are working to rid us of the onus of the hated Agenda 21. Its going to get very exciting.
Peace, Robert Walker

June 18, 2013 11:21 PM

I was debating this subject with some family members on a social network recently. And they said - not hinted, but flat out said - the terrorists have already won. It's either NSA-style snooping and zero privacy OR terrorists kill us. They literally said that. What's my point? There is no solution. The people have accepted the narrative. They're drinking the koolaid. The rest of us have to hide from it as much as we can or pick a different place to live.

June 19, 2013 7:36 AM

The rest of us must, if we are to be free, never hide, but be out front and loudly proclaim our desire for liberty. I choose to live by Patrick Henry's plea to the Almighty, "GIVE ME LIBERTY, OR GIVE ME DEATH!"
I will not run, and I will not hide. Peace, Robert Walker

June 19, 2013 9:39 AM

There is, in fact, a solution, but nobody dares take it seriously. We've talked about it in Scragged a number of times. To my startled surprise, Ann Coulter dared to more or less publish it in this recent article:


June 21, 2013 12:44 PM

Thank you for the column. I have posted it on my facebook page, and one that I manage (Our Natural Rights).
We may not always agree, but on this issue we are on the same page. It is not just the illiterate Mexicans that are hurting us, it is the fools who will die for the promise made by a madman of 72 virgins that worries me.
What would a man do with 72 virgins anyway? 3 or 4 maybe, or even half a dozen might be okay, but 72? PHEW!!!!
Peace, Robert Walker

June 21, 2013 2:41 PM
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