“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – First Amendment; United States Constitution
Those are not just mere words found on some old decaying piece of parchment. Those are the words that have great, unbending meaning – deeply rooted in the history of the United States of America – then considered a grand experiment in republican democracy. With little exception, a successful experiment that continues to pay hefty dividends in these United States, but also serving as a beacon for those nations and peoples seeking to emulate our grand designs given us by the likes of John Adams, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Mason, Thomas Paine, and George Washington.
And make no mistake, when the First Amendment fails, the Second Amendment takes over.
And let Watergate remind Barack Obama and his administration that no man is above the law. Obama’s righteous indignation, feigned that it is, cannot shroud the facts that this administration is up to its tuchus in a triumvirate of scandals, each smelling worse than the one before it.
So often we quote the likes of Jefferson, Franklin, Mason, and Madison who lived during those early days of the republic not knowing whether it would survive beyond the drying of the ink on the Constitution, let alone the 237 years we currently celebrate. Perhaps it is due to the tenuousness of the era in which they lived did their words resonate so strongly as to be recalled today.
“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.” – Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson’s wisdom and brilliance transcend time and history. Yet, even Jefferson might not imagine the size and scope of the federal government growing so out of control that more and more people, particularly the younger generations, expect, nay, demand that government provide for them from womb to tomb. Personal responsibility is non-existent. Taxes are used to pay for the lives of the lazy, the obstreperous, and the illegal.
Yet simultaneously, this government, so large and out of control, can hardly keep track of its own activities as the likes of Steven Miller, Lois Lerner, Doug Shulman, Sara Hall Ingram and a cast of many more unknowns continue to deny, claim the Fifth Amendment, pass the buck and otherwise obfuscate the issues in the myriad scandals sure to bring down any other administration. But not the Obama administration, for even after the media is caught up in the quagmire, they are still fawning sycophants giving their blinding support for this man who should be facing impeachment charges for high crimes and misdemeanors making Richard M. Nixon look like a Boy Scout. To be fair, both the New York Times and The Washington Post have recently begun to castigate the administration.
The slaughter of four Americans in Benghazi, the Internal Revenue Service’s unbalanced scrutiny into conservative organizations’ non-profit and/or tax-exempt status, and the Justice Department’s secretly rooting through the phone records of members of the media are categorically worse than Nixon’s Watergate and Warren Harding’s Teapot Dome scandals.
Under Obama there has been the abuse of power, political corruption, arrogance, and stupidity rising to new levels of stench, especially coming from the administration that claimed from day one it would be the most transparent administration in American history. And before anyone starts clamoring that other administrations have been guilty of their own share of dalliances with the shady side of the law, I categorically aver that two wrongs do not a right make. It’s time for Obama to put on his big boy pants (not his mom jeans) and take ownership of his administration’s corrupt and illegal practices.
When Harry Truman was president, the sign on his desk in the Oval Office read “The buck stops here.” President Truman took responsibility for the actions, or inactions of his administration.
Fast forward 60 years after Truman’s departure from the White House to the current occupant, Barack Obama and his scandal laden administration. With Obama, the buck stops anywhere but with him – as the pile under the bus grows on an almost daily basis.
In Benghazi, Libya, four members of the diplomatic mission, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Navy SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, along with information officer Sean Smith were slaughtered by Islamic militant terrorists on September 11, 2012.
First under the bus was US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who was tasked with appearing on five Sunday talk shows regaling all who would listen that the attack was not terrorist related, but an impromptu riot against an anti-Muslim video. That story had the shelf life of milk outdoors on the Equator as the video was nothing but a façade.
“No matter how imperfect things are, if you’ve got a free press everything is correctable, and without it everything is concealable.” – Tom Stoppard from his play Night and Day.
As in Watergate, the cover up was worse than the truth. The truth is that more security was requested, begged for even, but was never approved by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She subsequently suffered a convenient concussion and then had the gall to shout during her testimony, “What difference, at this point does it matter,” regarding the actual circumstances behind the death of four Americans. Tell that to their families, who more than eight months later are still demanding answers, and rightfully so. Tell that also to Mark Basseley Youssef, a.k.a. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the filmmaker still in an American prison for a film that was not the root cause of the Benghazi terrorist attacks.
But there was Obama, in front of the cameras telling the American people the Benghazi attacks were not terrorist attacks but motivated by a film never seen by the terrorists – a word Obama opted not to use for days. How could security be so lax and porous on September 11 of all days?
While the Benghazi scandal still reverberates around the ether, the country has been shaken to its core as privacy rights and a free press have been challenged by the Obama administration.
“The freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.” – George Mason; Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776
So bereft of scruples, the Obama administration has taken to spying on the media – the very press that carried his water throughout two presidential campaigns and elections to get him to the White House and keep him there, when having served as a back bencher in the Illinois State Senate and then as a US Senator for 147 days before announcing his intentions of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
Under the guise of national security and the alleged leadership of hopefully soon to be former Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department, unbeknownst to its victims, secured the phone records and e-mails of not just members of the Associated Press, but Fox News, family of members of the press, and potentially other media outlets yet to be discovered.
Naturally, Holder has denied any involvement in this scandal, yet defended his department’s secret gathering of the phone records claiming there was “a grave national security leak.” If such a leak occurred and if such a potential national security issue existed, wouldn’t it behoove the AG to be in the loop on such investigative activities? Holder can’t have it both ways.
If there was a breach in national security and Holder was unaware of it, he should be out and whoever unearthed such a breach should have his post. If not, as is suspected, the Justice Department is guilty of violating policy and procedure and possibly countless laws. When the government seeks phone and e-mail records, it notifies the organizations first, even secures subpoenas, not engage in cloak and dagger nonsense.
Holder and his Justice Department are more and more culpable with the unearthing of the fact that Holder himself authorized the investigation into Fox News reporter James Rosen’s e-mail – an investigation that stretched to include that of Rosen’s parents as well. Yet the denials continue. Even the liberal site Huffington Post has called for Holder’s ousting as the Attorney General.
In order to capably do its job, the notion of a free press should be sacrosanct. Having worked as a reporter for a number of years, I fully understand and respect the notion of deep background, keeping pertinent information out of a story when an ongoing investigation was the subject, as well as what off the record means. Even in this day and age of the biased media, a free press remains a cornerstone of the American democratic-republic.
“Without a free press there can be no free society.” – Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, 1954
The American public needs more than just a modicum of confidence that the media is working freely, independently, and unfettered, even as biased as it is. Potential reliable sources need to feel protected or unreliable sources will destroy the state of the media. News is factual and must remain so – in spite of too many so-called reporters attempting to be the next Woodward or Bernstein by injecting themselves into the news and opining where is does not belong. Separate fact from fiction from opinion.
This scandal will not, nor should not, go quietly into this good night.
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” –Thomas Jefferson, 1789
People’s liberty is also at stake when a behemoth government organization, the IRS, recently charged with running Obamacare and needing to hire 16,000 new agents to ensure it is being run properly, is also mired neck high in a scandal.
Seems the IRS zealously audited and investigated an enormously disproportionate number of conservative organizations with TEA Party, liberty, freedom, other patriotic names as well as pro-Israel and conservative Jewish organizations. Their 501(c)(3) status was held up for months or downright denied unilaterally without explanation.
This harassment had been taking place since before the 2012 presidential campaign. These audits targeted organizations having a beef with Obama or seen to run contrary to Obama’s beliefs or plans for winning reelection and governing thereafter. Demands should be made for all the pertinent e-mail communications just as the Nixon tapes had been subpoenaed during the Watergate investigations.
Law abiding American citizens and organizations have the Constitutional right to freely associate, freely worship, and freely contribute to the candidates of their choosing without being harassed by the IRS or any other government agency. The IRS does not have the right to ask members of an organization to whom they contribute their money, how they pray, or even what prayers they recite. This scurrilous behavior by the IRS and the Obama administration at-large is tantamount to George Orwell’s 1984 becoming reality.
Pro-life organizations were delayed in achieving their tax-exempt status or denied outright, while Planned Parenthood has enjoyed such status for years. Conservative, patriotic, and pro-Israel organizations were placed under a microscope so intrusive it made a prostate exam seem like a day at the beach. Other groups crying out for investigation were simply given a pass by the IRS, an arm of the government people fear on a good day.
“When people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson
Even US Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), a loyal Obama supporter and member of the House Ways and Means Committee, expressed his disgust with the IRS. Having his own tax evasion issues, Rangel said he was offended by the behavior of the IRS.
Replete with more “I don’t know” responses than Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and more claims of knowing nothing to make Sergeant Schultz of Hogan’s Heroes look like a Phi Beta Kappa, those who testified before the House Ways and Means Committee as well as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee took poor counsel from the pettifoggers advising them, making them look even more guilty, if that is at all possible.
Miller, Lerner, and Shulman offered denials and took the Fifth Amendment with derisive sneers and arrogance as though they had no responsibility in these scandals. They should not be allowed to behave this way. Are ordinary American citizens and organizations allowed to shun an IRS audit? Are they allowed to not know things? Are they allowed to take the Fifth? No, no, and no. Clearly there is yet another double standard in play here.
Keep them in their seats to testify the truth. Barring that, cite them with Contempt of Congress. There have been some take charge members on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, namely US Rep. Trey Goudy (R-SC) who reminded the committee that witnesses can’t have it both ways – provide statements to defend themselves, but then refuse to answer questions from the members.
No one knew anything. No one did anything wrong. No one knew anyone who knew anything. No one knew anyone who did anything wrong. Yet, Obama himself said, “Let’s ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
I don’t want to say heads should roll for fear of being called Islamophobic, especially with this administration, but not only do people need to be fired, I support what House Speaker John Boehner asked. “My question isn’t who’s going to resign… my question is who’s going to jail.” In addition to jail, since the buck really does stop with Barack Obama, he should be out of a job, and we the American people should not have to wait until January 20, 2017.