Mikuláš Aleš, Rabbi Löw oživuje Golema (Rabbi Löw revives the Golem)
FINEM RESPICE (a Private Equity professional, and another obviously well-educated elite cynic) has a nice sardonic rap for Americans appalled by the recent Government-snooping-or lying- or out-of-control scandals.
If you live in the United States it may finally be dawning on you that you have something of a problem in the government to which you are now a Subject. In fact, the details of the [NSA Snooping|Verizon Metadata|IRS Political Targeting|Bankruptcy Preference|Fast and Furious|State Department Coverup|Libyan Ambassador|George Takei Facebook Ghostwriting] scandal are meaningless. You are already far too late. It will get worse before it gets better, it may never get better again, and, frankly, finem respice has not a shred of sympathy for your plight or that of your countrymen/women. In fact, given the manner you have quashed the opportunity- almost unique in the history of the species- created by an impossibly rare coexistence of liberty, private property, free markets, the rise of scientific method, and freedom of expression (to name just a few) there is more than a passing argument to be made that your society has squandered one of the greatest intellectual and individualistic fortunes in history.
Moreover, less charitable commentators may one day look upon what you have vainly and arrogantly loosed upon the world and wonder if the word “criminal” might not actually be excessive. To the extent humanity was headed towards something approaching a post-scarcity society finem respice would not wonder if you have collectively set that project back decades, or even centuries.
You see, for generations now you have collectively built and nurtured a massive, living, metabolizing creature. From the inanimate, intellectual detritus of “progressivism” and your unending and increasingly all-consuming narcissism you have kneaded it into a shapeless husk, pouring in rank mud like “Save the Planet,” “Global Warming,” “The American Dream of Home Ownership,” “The War on Drugs”, “Mothers Against Drunk Driving”, “The War On Terror”, “Speculators”, “Too Big To Fail”, “The 1%”, and of course the essence and spark of its life, “…if it saves just one child.” In conjunction with (but far more so than the other buckets of intellectual mud) “…if it saves just one child” has created the Golem of Government.
It was useful once, certainly, but it has since grown larger and more unwieldy as you slumbered. It is more potent than you now, and now it wields its own momentum with a self-directed animus of its own design, winding to and fro, unpredictable and twister-like, a destructive force that, despite what you thought, is not magically contained by the frontiers of the United States. Its power is extraterritorial and carves a wide swath across and through international law, international relations, international taxation, “force projection,” and grips a stranglehold on the global financial system, which it greedily claims as its own and uses as hostage to bend the laws of other states to its will.
With almost Tolkienesque malice it seeks to see all, hear all, and know all- and owing to complacency that runs the gamut from your blithe acquiescence to your active participation, increasingly looks close to meeting its total information omniscience goal. Yet, the Golem is possessed of no craft, no subtlety, no art. Its sensory organs inform crude appendages that know how to do nothing but squeeze, smash, stomp, kidnap, and explode the targets of its interest without apology or feeling. Moreover, the Golem has no sense of proportion, happily imposing costs of $10 billion on the developed world to collect less than one tenth of that in revenue for itself, raining fire from the sky upon any collection of persons it feels might maybe contain a couple troublemakers. It thinks nothing of shutting down the 20th largest city within its borders (at a cost of many billions of dollars) to hunt down a single sleep-deprived, starving, wounded, and suicidal criminal. Likewise, it laughs to spend hundreds of thousands in time and expenses to ransack those of its Subjects’ entities with operating budgets of $20,000, $15,000, or even less, or to ruin a mid-sized enterprise with a displeasing political orientation over vague foreign regulations on the exportation of wood.
Like its namesake, the bureaucratic Golem you have formed may at one time have grudgingly served the better angels of The State’s nature (if such can even be said to exist), but it has long since grown past your control. Try to rein it in and it fights back mercilessly, turning to bite and scratch and often inflicting mortal political (or corporal) wounds without thought. Try to starve it and it merely helps itself to lucre by encumbering the royal mint with its debts and thus accelerates the process of impoverishing you and yours with its ceaseless appetite for blood and treasure, growing even more potent and desperate in the meantime until every challenge to its ever-growing hunger occasions a political crisis, a violent and deadly storm that none dare to brave for more than the briefest of interludes, and never twice in a row.
It seems you once believed that the proper demigod might tame the Golem, direct its purpose to your own pet causes, or at least blunt its influence and attenuate the heat of its hate and ceaseless anger. You believed those heroes from the lands to the West had the steel to domesticate it, or those philosopher kings from the Northeast the intellect to reason with it. Those from the political right, you argued, or those from the left, you insisted, would best shrink its influence, or channel its immense power for good. How foolish it must feel (if you even bother to take the time to reflect) to learn, finally, that none of the last ten of your modern heroes have ought but grown the Golem’s power and influence. None have felt its power and resisted the urge to attempt to pollute that power for their own ends. In fact, of late those who scorned it most vocally seem to have coupled with it most passionately, spurting forth from their sinful and false loins the seed that spawned ever more Golem offspring. For how many more cycles will you perpetuate the insane hope that the “right leader” will tame it? When will you finally recoil in horror to watch the Golem consume these offspring, growing by absorbing these massive juggernauts in their own right with names like “DHS”, “CFTC”, or the nearly 150 nameless progeny spawned off in one massive birthing in March of 2010?
Dan Greenfield relishes the ironies of the Obama Administration’s conflicts with the very same establishment Media which propelled it into power.
The quarrel between Obama and the Media is largely a lovers’ quarrel, but the love is only there on one side. The media made Obama what he is. But what he is, among many other things, is a control freak spawned by a political ideology that distrusts everyone and consolidates power at all cost.
The media loved Obama, but it discovered early on that he did not love it back. Instead of basking in the adoration of the Candy Crowleys and the Anderson Coopers and the massive corporate machines behind them, the love child of every liberal fantasy shut them out, rigidly controlled their access and ruthlessly punished unauthorized conversations with the press.
The media had made Obama into a tin god, but were constantly suspected of heresy. Instead of being rewarded for their loyalty, they were kept at arm’s length.
Obama Inc. knew that their biggest asset was the narrative. A close study of Obama’s qualifications or accomplishments would have given no conceivable reason for voting for him. The only thing he brought to the table was race and even in this he was less qualified than most of the black men who had run for president.
The narrative was the dearest treasure of Obama Inc. It was the one thing that its cronies protected. The economy could tank, wars could be lost and an asteroid could smack into the Pacific Ocean and none of it mattered nearly as much as the golden narrative. They didn’t trust anyone with it including the media.
The media these days doesn’t have much. Its numbers are bad in every medium from the tube to the inky pages of newsprint to the crackling AM radio waves. It isn’t very profitable. Often it’s a dead weight. But it wields a great deal of institutional power. The New York Times and CNN may both be dogs when it comes to the balance sheets, but owning either one gives you an impressive amount of heft in the national dialogue; though not as much as working for one of them does.
Power is all that the media has. Its power is projected in a fairly narrow circle. Fewer people are reading, watching and listening to it, so its circle becomes more incestuous. Everyone has learned to act like a member of the D.C. press corps, interpreting events through the lens of old West Wing episodes. The resulting noise reaches fewer people, but helps form the shaky consensus on which the institutional power of the media stands.
In its dying hour, the media used that power to ensure the double coronation of a corrupt Chicago politician with a facility for mimicking speech patterns. And that politician rewarded it by trying to bypass it and set up his own media.
Obama’s vision of the proper place of the media isn’t just at his feet, but under his control. Instead of dealing with the media, he has tried to cut it out of the loop by putting a larger emphasis on social media and developing narratives through think-tanks and media influencing groups. It was a power struggle that the media was initially baffled by. It had held out an ice cream cone to the little boy, only to have the little boy kick it in the shin, grab the ice cream cone and run away.
For years the media had groused about a lack of transparency, the unprecedented prosecution of whistleblowers and the hostile relationship between Obama Inc’s minions and many reporters. The grousing was usually understated. It could be mentioned offhand, but not too loudly. When Bob Woodward made the mistake of speaking his mind, he was swiftly punished for it by the avatars of the post-media media, while the old media sat silently and watched the show.
But then Obama pushed its limits by invading the sanctum of the Associated Press. It was one thing when the administration was targeting whistleblowers, but quite another when the media’s power became part of the collateral damage.
The week of scandals was the media reminding Obama that his smooth ride had been provided by them and that the ride could get very bumpy if his media ponies decide to take the back road to Benghazigate or drop by the IRS headquarters. It’s a bluff, of course. The day may come when the media takes Obama out back and disposes of him so that the new messiah, perhaps in a pantsuit, can ascend the old Camelot throne, but that day isn’t here yet.
Scandal week was a game of chicken between Obama and the media to see who would blink first. Would Obama decide to respect the institutional power of the media or would be consider pushing forward until the media blinked. A brief history of Obama Inc. suggests that he will keep pushing on. Obama backs down from Muslim terrorists and Russian government thugs, but not from Americans.
Like most cowards, Obama only attacks those he knows won’t fight back. And the only people who won’t fight back are either helpless or bound by their politics not to resist the liberal messiah.
Obama knows that the media does not dare harm a hair on the head of the liberal agenda. And he made certain to appoint a Vice President whom no one in their right mind would want to see take over. Until 2016, it’s Hussein or the highway. The media has shown that it can hamstring him even when the coverage is only mild. It is quite capable of turning up the temperature to boiling, though not without a civil war with Media Matters, Think Progress and a chunk of the liberal new media.
The media is a prisoner of its own ideology. It can’t hit Obama too hard… yet. Not until they’re making the case that Hillary will do a better job of governing than this inexperienced tyro did. Having abandoned any professional integrity years ago, it would be too late for most of the media to reclaim it now. Even in the name of its own institutional power.
Embattled IRS official Lois Lerner will invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself when she appears before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
In a letter to Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Lerner’s attorney William W. Taylor III cites the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the issue of whether the IRS singled out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
Lerner, who oversaw the IRS nonprofit department, will be the first person involved with the IRS scandal to publicly invoke the Fifth Amendment.
“Just when you think things can’t get any stranger around here, they take a twist,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told POLITICO, adding, “this is a very serious matter.”
Taylor’s letter requests that Lerner be excused from testifying, but Issa has issued a subpoena to compel her appearance.
“Requiring her to appear at the hearing merely to assert her Fifth Amendment privilege would have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her,” Taylor wrote.
Jonah Goldberg points out that nobody needs to find a specific order in Barack Obama’s handwriting. He has made it very clear, time again, that anyone daring to oppose his policies or himself is beyond the pale.
Obama’s culpability in all of this isn’t restricted merely to his sins of omission. Throughout his presidency, Obama has set a very clear tone.
He’s made it clear that people who disagree with him are fevered, illegitimate, weird, creepy, dangerous, stupid, confused, ignorant, or some other adjective you might assign to a revamped version of the Seven Dwarfs. He’s explained that he doesn’t mind “cleaning up after” Republicans but he doesn’t want to hear “a lot of talking” from them. The time for democratic debate is always behind us with an administration that began with the mission not to let a crisis go to waste, for as Obama said in his second inaugural address, “Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time.”
Moreover, President Obama often insists we live in a country where the “government is us,” where there’s no need to fear tyranny “around the corner” because we could never be tyrannical against ourselves.
Clarice Feldman imagines the revelry as Washington’s trial lawyer establishment looks forward to the hefty retainer checks flowing from Obama Administration scandals.
After running an errand at the Courthouse, I decided to pop into the Barrister Bar and Bistro for a quick bite. The place was packed and Charlie, the maitre d’, shrugged his shoulders apologetically. “There’s a huge party here this afternoon, but I can seat you at the bar if you don’t mind.”
I didn’t mind and was happy to see that my favorite bartender, Joe, was at work,
“Place is jammed. I’ve never seen it so packed. What’s up?” I asked as Joe placed my vodka tonic in front of me. “Looks like every former U.S. Attorney in town is here.”
He pressed in closer so that he wouldn’t be overheard.
“Celebration of the scandals. They are about to make more money defending these clowns than they ever dreamed of. Second terms are always more lucrative for them than first, but this is the ultimate jackpot. Like winning the Powerball.”
The bar was mirrored so even with my back to the crowd I could see what was going on. In the center of the room at a round table sat one of the president’s biggest campaign bundlers, an extremely well garbed man—hand-tailored navy suit, lustrous silk tie, crisp shirt and glittering cufflinks—with a great haircut. He was seated with a group of well-sloshed men and women all of whom were drinking heartily.
Suddenly everyone stood up for the toast.
“Here’s to George,” began his colleague. “We asked why we should support Obama after that disastrous first term and he said, ‘Cast your crumbs upon the water and you’ll get fig newtons back.’”
“And he was right!” came a shout from the rear and a wild round of applause followed.
Aside from the circular table in the middle where George and his cronies sat, there were seven tables.
“What are the colored badges for?” I asked.
“They signify which scandal defendants they are representing so they can exchange useful procedural and related information without disclosing who they are representing or breaching client confidentiality. The orange tag means the attorney is representing someone in the Benghazi scandal.”
“I see seven—probably Petraeus, Clinton, Rice, Donilon, Brennan, Nuland, Rhodes. And the blue badge?” I asked, sipping the drink.
“IRS scandal,” George whispered, wiping the counter to appear more inconspicuous.
“Hmm,” I thought, “Shulman, Ingram, Miller, Lerner, and some others to be named at a later date. And the red badge?”
“Small table—must be Justice officials on the Associated Press scandal.”
With scandals popping everywhere around the Obama Administration, this BBC guide to euphemisms employed by politicians in the past is bound to come in handy. Joe Biden frequently seems “tired and emotional” and rumors abound that President Obama is the sort of fellow who “watches badgers.”
A triple helping of scandals and five years of arrogance on the part of the president and administration are coming together to mark a turning point in relations between this administration and the Washington political establishment. The special protection that Barack Obama has enjoyed for five years may be coming to an end.
The town is turning on President Obama — and this is very bad news for this White House.
Republicans have waited five years for the moment to put the screws to Obama — and they have one-third of all congressional committees on the case now. Establishment Democrats, never big fans of this president to begin with, are starting to speak out. And reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration.
Buy-in from all three D.C. stakeholders is an essential ingredient for a good old-fashioned Washington pile-on — so get ready for bad stories and public scolding to pile up.
Vernon Jordan, a close adviser to President Bill Clinton through his darkest days, told us: “It’s never all right if you’re the president. There is no smooth sailing. So now he has the turbulence, and this is the ultimate test of his leadership.” Jordan says Obama needs to do something dramatic on the IRS, and quick: “He needs to fire somebody. He needs action, not conversation.”
Obama’s aloof mien and holier-than-thou rhetoric have left him with little reservoir of good will, even among Democrats. And the press, after years of being accused of being soft on Obama while being berated by West Wing aides on matters big and small, now has every incentive to be as ruthless as can be.
This White House’s instinctive petulance, arrogance and defensiveness have all worked to isolate Obama at a time when he most needs a support system. “It feel like they don’t know what they’re here to do,” a former senior Obama administration official said. “When there’s no narrative, stuff like this consumes you.”
Republican outrage is predictable, maybe even manageable. Democratic outrage is not.