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Friday, June 28, 2013

It's Not the Scandals!

The scandals in the Obama Administration are mounting up. By my count there are now four distinct scandals...

  1. Fast & Furious.  F & F was a screwball scheme to advance gun control legislation in the US by creating mayhem along the border caused by guns sold in the US.  When exposed by Fox News, the Administration claimed that it was hatched by rogue officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Arizona.  However, all clues point directly to the White House as the originator of this Abbott and Costello operation.  The bungled affair includes the US Attorney General Eric Holder lying to Congress, and the news media (except Fox) doing their best to ignore it.  Had he been a Republican President, Barack Obama (who basically admitted to being in on it from the beginning via an offhand remark made to Sarah Brady) would be out on his ear.
  2. Benghazi.  This tragedy has the fingerprints of the President and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all over it.  Both knowingly told a bald face lie to the American people, stating for several weeks that the attack on our embassy was caused by a video.  Actually, they knew within just a few hours that it was a terrorist attack, but that revelation would have been bad for President Obama’s re-election campaign, so they chose to lie.  Worse yet, they decided not to send in a rescue team (even though they had no way of knowing how long the attack would last).  All this was done for strictly political reasons.  Four Americans, including our Ambassador, died.  And, what was Secretary Clinton’s response when she was called to explain to Congress?  “What difference…does it make?” the lady of Rose Law Firm fame literally screamed back at them.
  3. IRS.  It turns out that beginning in 2010 the IRS began harassing and delaying approval of legitimate applications for 501(c)(4) nonprofit status for groups whose name included Tea Party, Patriot or some other conservative term.  At first it was claimed that it was caused by some rogue IRS agents in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Later, it was discovered that Sarah Hall, the IRS official in charge of the tax exempt division during this period, visited the White House 165 times.  She met with President Obama on six occasions.  The only possible explanation is that Ms. Hall was busy coordinating with or getting directions from the White House political team on her efforts to suppress the effectiveness of Tea Party groups in this critical election year.  Later yet, we learn that this law breaking activity originated not in Cincinnati, but in the headquarters of the IRS in Washington, DC. 
  4. James Rosen and the Associate Press.  In another case of lying to Congress, Attorney General Holder appeared before the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee to provide testimony regarding the Justice Department’s improper confiscation of the phone records of 20 Associated Press reporters and editors.  When asked if he had any involvement in that or in the tracking of Fox reporter James Rosen, Holder said he “had no involvement.”  Later Holder admitted that he personally signed off on the secret monitoring of Fox reporter, James Rosen.  What was Obama’s response to this scandal?  He ordered Eric Holder to conduct a complete investigation of the matter.  In other words, Eric Holder was instructed to investigate Eric Holder!

The White House has strenuously resisted all calls for the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate these scandals.  Of course they have.  If you are guilty, why would you want to appoint your own hangman?

However, these scandals, as bad as they are, are not the root problem.  Even Obama, as bad as he is and as much damage as he has done, is not really the root problem. 

These scandals did not occur because of Obama.  These scandals are systemic to any powerful government.  They did not happen solely because there is a liberal in the White House.  It did not happen because Obama is a Democrat.  The problem is far deeper than that.

It’s a problem that the Founders worried about from the very beginning.  It is the problem they tried their best to avoid and keep from happening.  It is a problem of human nature.  This is not a theological discussion, but the fact is that from the first moment a person rises in the morning to the moment he falls asleep at night, his human frailty takes charge.  He, and you and I, and everyone else who was ever born, is cursed by having feet of clay.  We lust, we envy, we gossip, we curse, we shade the truth, we get angry, we hate, and we dishonor God.  It was this understanding of human nature that gave the Founders the wisdom to understand that if they created an all-powerful government, with all-powerful elected officials, those officials would succumb to the temptation to rule, rather than serve.

Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  He was correct.  You don’t have to be a religious person to understand human nature.  Just look around you.  Who do you know that lives a perfect life?  Who is without flaws and faults?  I know it isn’t me and you know it isn’t you. 

Just look at the people who succumb to corruption when they gain wealth or power.  It doesn’t matter whether it is personal power and wealth gained honestly or the vast power of a politician, especially the President, who came about wealth and power via the political process.  Why wouldn’t it go to your head?  The President goes globetrotting in his personal 747, living like a king.  He is pampered, deferred to, and his every wish is catered to.  No wonder he begins to think of himself as a demigod.  No wonder he begins to think of himself as above the law.

Corruption will always exist in government and the bigger the government the bigger and more vast the corruption will be.  There is nothing unique or accidental about the corruption of the Obama Administration.  It’s what we should expect.  It’s what is always going to happen.  It is true that a President who seeks to be humble and who seeks virtue will have a better chance of avoiding the extensive corruption of this White House.  It is also true that when the political appointees of a President are men and women who reject traditional moral values, based on Judeo/Christian principles, corruption will be greater and more widespread.  Nevertheless, the bigger and more powerful government is, the more corruption will exist and flourish.

America is a great nation not because it has great institutions, a big government, great military strength, great academicians, or great intellectuals.  It has been said, quite accurately, that the genius of America is the American people themselves, who cherish and value individual freedom.  The future of freedom in America rests upon the principle that the American people are sufficiently wise to govern themselves without undo interference from the government.  That’s what it means to say the greatness of America rests with the American people.

The Founders were well-educated men, they were intelligent men, but most important of all, they were wise men.  Their wisdom rested entirely on their understanding of human nature and their trust in God.  They understood their frailty and their weakness and their impotence compared to the goodness and power of their Creator.  They understood the contrast of their corruptibility in comparison to the perfection of God.  They lived generations prior to Lord Acton, but they shared his understanding of the inability of man to resist being corrupted by power.

Scandals do not exist in government because of one man or one administration, they exist because the more powerful government becomes, the more corrupt it becomes.  Socialist states are logically and understandably riddled with corruption.  Bribery is a way of life. 

All powerful, centralized governments are built to serve the masters of government, not to serve the people.  These non-producers of society live in luxury off the backs of those who pay the taxes they spend wantonly.  Because no government of any kind has a fair, legitimate, or accurate means of gauging the value of any services provided by its elected politicians or by public employees, they will always be overcompensated.  Government employment becomes attractive to the security minded, not to the risk takers.  As government grows, elective office becomes ever more attractive to the power seeking.  And, as government expands, individual freedom contracts.  That’s why, as the late Milton Friedman observed, “We are lucky we don’t get as much government as we pay for.” 

All socialist schemes are financially unsustainable and subject to corruption.  Why, because politicians see government services as a means of controlling and bribing the masses to re-elect them.  And, to expand government power and to give politicians more control, services will be continually expanded to encompass more and more people who did not pay for those services.  Accordingly, all socialist services deteriorate, providing worse and worse health care, worse and worse retirement income, and higher and higher taxes.  Shoddy products, shoddy services, and ever present corruption characterize socialism.  It can’t be any other way.  In fact, socialism has been tried and re-tried and in each and every case inefficiency, corruption, and a diminution of individual freedom occur.

The scandals of the Obama White House are the natural outgrowth of an all-powerful government.  And, since power attracts and brings out the worst in humankind, the quality of those in ruling positions will continue to decline.  If serving in Congress was truly public service, there would be no high salaries, no big benefits and thus, no career politicians.  There would only be citizen statesmen who see public service as a sacrifice, not a career opportunity.  This was the vision of the Founders. 

There is only one solution to restoring our economy and expanding individual freedom—shrinking the size of government and the importance of the people who populate it.  The less powerful our government is, the less important it is, the less desirable it will be to those who seek power over others.

The corruption that exists today in our government is simply a symptom of our failure to stay faithful to the vision of our Founders.  Since man is corrupt, corruption will always exist, but the less power government has, the less corruption there will be and the less damage it can do to our nation and, accordingly, to our individual freedom.

But, a return to the limited government created by the Founders will remain elusive as long as there is not a consensus of virtue in America.  That is what George Washington meant when he said, “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.  The general government…can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any despotic or oppressive form so long as there is any virtue in the body of the people."

Why did Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, and other Founders put so much emphasis on the importance of virtue to maintaining individual freedom?  What did they mean by virtue?

My American Heritage College Dictionary provides this definition of virtue:  ”Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.”  Note that this definition does not define virtue as “Moral perfection” but simply excellence, i.e. the seeking of a moral life and righteousness, and goodness.  The Founders were not suggesting that the citizens of America had to be or could be perfect or that they would achieve moral perfection or righteousness.  They were simply stating that individual freedom can only exist when people humble themselves before God and seek His righteousness.  The outcome, when citizens seek virtue, is men and women who…

  1. Exercise self-restraint
  2. Exhibit compassion
  3. Strive to be honest
  4. Are industrious
  5. Trust in God, and
  6. Fear and love God

It is only through self-restraint that freedom can exist.  If every individual gives full throttle to his passions and confuses freedom with license, the police power of the government will necessarily increase.  If individuals do not impose moral restraints upon themselves, then crime increases, public civility declines, and general chaos ensues.

If hearts grow cold and citizens, churches, and the society in general ceases to exhibit compassion for those in need, government must, of necessity, step in to fill the void.  This causes government to grow and individual freedom to shrink.

If honesty and integrity decline, the free market ceases to become the engine of prosperity, and government corruption expands.  Without individual integrity, the fabric of society rips apart, and unity of purpose disappears.

Without personal industry, general and individual prosperity and character decline.  Laziness breeds envy, corruption, and moral complacency.

And, if a consensus of Americans don’t trust in the God of our fathers, and both fear and love him as the King of kings and the Lord of lords, society goes off the rails.  We begin to put our faith in our own abilities, and we reject traditional moral values such as the sanctity of life, and the importance of marriage and the family as the bedrock that holds society together.  Integrity, honesty, manners and morality disintegrate when there is no trust in God and respect for His power and love.

Patrick Henry spoke for the Founders when he outlined the course that was necessary to follow in order to preserve the American republic…

No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”

We have ventured afar from the mores and values of the Founders.  We have strayed from the fundamental principles upon which the Founders created this nation.  Not until we return to our roots of freedom and morality will we have a chance of preserving freedom in the United States of America for our children and grandchildren.

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