Saturday, August 24, 2013

The NSA, the ACA, Filner and the Rule of Law

Bob Filner resigned yesterday under the weight of a sexual harassment scandal.  I say, one cheer for this outcome.  While Filner's sexual harassment conduct violated the law, it is generally not criminal, except for the potential assault charges, and even those would be unlikely to be felonies.  Filner's blatant disregard for the rule of law, including corruption, as chronicled on this blog should have been the more compelling reason for his removal.  From trying to shake down the hoteliers on the tourism district tax to shaking down developers, Filner displayed an arrogance and disregard that should have no place in American politics.  Sadly, these twin defects are plaguing our political system from city hall to the White House and the federal bureaucracy.

The Affordable Care Act is not delivering on its key promises and it is obvious to all but its most partisan defenders.  Dean has documented the numerous ways in which the act has been subverted by the administration itself with barely a nod to legality.  The President believes he can suspend portions of a law that he signed.  There is little outrage nor coverage.  Individuals will be penalized by the IRS soon if they don't buy approved coverage, big businesses, unions, and Congressional aides, not so much.  HHS Secretary Sebelius has described the ACA as "the law of the land," but what do we call a land in which the law is not applied to the ruling class and the favored classes but only to the "masses." Even socialists call that a tyranny.

Meanwhile, the NSA has acknowledged that its agents have violated the surveillance laws, without much consequence for the agency, because of course, the whole thing is secret.  A judge has concluded that the NSA has exceeded its authority and not been forthcoming.
The federal judge authoring the opinion, FISC Judge John Bates, concluded that there is no way to know with certainty how far the government’s intelligence and surveillance capabilities have actually gone. In his 85-page opinion, Bates noted that his court originally approved the NSA's ability to capture a more limited and targeted amount of data.
“In conducting its review and granting those approvals, the Court did not take into account NSA’s acquisition of Internet transactions, which now materially and fundamentally alters the statutory and constitutional analysis,” the judge wrote.
No accountability, spying on Americans and no way of knowing how far it goes.  How does this differ in any way except volume from any other totalitarian regime.

Peggy Noonan has analyzed the issue well, and although she is discussing the NSA in particular, this analysis applies to the lawlessness in government in general.

"All this scares me to death," the man [a former Senator] wrote. "How many times do we have to watch government, with the best of intentions, I am sure (or almost so), do things 'for us'? Now 'security' and 'terrorism' argue for and justify the case for ever more intrusions—all in the name of protecting us. The truly frightening thing is that we are told we have to depend on government to police itself. Not a comforting thought, for we already have far too much evidence of the lack of such self-supervision. These actions, as Nat Hentoff said, will sooner than later curtail free speech. 
"If so, I am fearful that this will ultimately lead a nation of sullen paranoids, ever more dependent upon government, ever more fearful of it. A free society, it will not be."
Leftists in charge of our government can't think of a better goal, it enhances their power to run everyone's lives.  True Liberals should join those of us in the liberty movement in rising up against this tyranny of lawlessness.  I had hoped that Filner's ouster would be seen as a good first step, but the greater point about rule of law appears to be drowned in a sea of sensationalism.

What You Should Be Reading


  1. Under fascism, whatever the government does, by definition, is legal.

  2. Under fascism, whatever the government does, by definition, is legal.