Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. America’s Greatest Threat is Still There

 

Memorial Day always makes me stop and think about how unlikely it is that The United States even exists. All the risks that had to be taken, all the sacrifices that had to be made, all the little things that had to turn out just so. It’s incredible that America came into being, and still exists. And then I think about how, if just a few things had gone wrong, none of this ever would have happened. And how easy it would be for us to destroy all that was built by all those remarkable people and remarkable events over the past few centuries.

With the strength of our economy and our military, no foreign power can realistically threaten America. To paraphrase Lincoln, if this country is to die, the cause of death will be suicide. So when I see our “government of, by and for the people” start to view the people of this great country as an impediment to their goals, I get very concerned. Such as when I wrote this, nearly two and a half years ago:

I view much of modern politics as a power struggle between two groups: 1) Classical liberals who value individual liberty and a restrained government of laws not of men, and 2) Statists, who believe that an active government can be a good way to buffer the flaws of individuals to better move us toward a Utopian vision of peace and equality. The problem here is that Statists gravitate toward government (understandably), including the administrative state, regulatory agencies, and other “career government” jobs. This leads to a situation touched on by @EJHill’s recent post, “There’s no such thing as checks and balances.” When one political party attempts to increase the size, power, and influence of government, and the other party wishes to decrease the size, power, and influence of government, then the government is unlikely to remain an uninterested bystander when elections come around. Checks and balances between the different branches of government become less relevant when they all have the same goal. It’s no longer a government of, by, and for the people. It’s the government versus the people. This has been tried before; with consistent, predictable results.

If Russia had played a role in our last presidential election, that would have been concerning. First of all, it would mean Putin, one of the most powerful men in the world, is a fool. Why would he want Trump as President when he could have Clinton? Second, that is something close to an act of war (except when Obama does it to Israel). Third, it’s a security concern in other areas.

But this is scarier – our own government is trying to control our elections. The FBI (and other government agencies) attempting to influence our elections is absolutely terrifying. Not unexpected, but terrifying. Republicans don’t just need to run against their opponent – they also have to run against the media, the educational establishment, and popular culture. OK, that makes it tougher. Now, they have to run against the very government they hope to work in someday. Meaning that if they somehow manage to win, they will be working with lots of people who are very open about the fact that they don’t want them there.

I’m not sure this is fixable. Classical liberals tend to avoid government, and thus are unlikely to seek a career in the administrative state or some other role in government. Thus, the government naturally will tend, over time, to become populated nearly exclusively with Statists, who will nearly unanimously favor Democrats. Government is, by definition, the seat of power. Do we really expect these people to decline to use their power to control the path of government? Remember that they view government as a tool to improve the greater good – they have only our best interests in mind. If you were on the side of the angels, and you had the power of government, would you not use it to help more people if possible?

None of this is unexpected, and as far as I can see, none of it is correctable.

So who did what at the FBI? The FISA court? Some other government agency I’ve never heard of? I don’t know, and I doubt we’ll ever find out the details.

But this is terrifying. Someone, please tell me I’m overreacting.


 

When President Obama, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and the Democrat party attempted to use the FBI and other government agencies (staffed by unelected government workers) to control the outcome of a presidential election, I found that to be an existential threat to America. At that time, I doubted that the investigations into the matter would yield much fruit. Because, obviously, those investigations are being performed largely by those same unelected government workers, who have a stake in the outcome of elections. What motivation do they have to reduce their own influence, and thus reduce their own ability to do what they view as good for society?

It’s been nearly two and a half years since I wrote the above passage. I don’t think anything has changed. Or perhaps it has and I’m being overly cynical?

What do you think? Is this threat to our country as serious as I’m making it out to be? And do you think there’s a chance this trend can be reversed?

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I thought you were overreacting. I wanted to see the evidence.

    The evidence is coming in. It is no longer an overreaction.

    • #1
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:22 PM PDT
    • 25 likes
  2. E. Kent Golding Member

    If Trump is re-elected, more of the bad actors will retire or quit for more enjoyable gigs in the media , K-Street or Wall Street.

    If the democrats win the Presidency, the bad actors will be empowered. Vote Republican.

    • #2
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:24 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  3. philo Member

    Dr. Bastiat: …do you think there’s a chance this trend can be reversed?

    Delayed, yes. (Thank you DJT.) But reversal is highly unlikely. The normalization of corruption and institutional sclerosis we have today are simply too much inertia to overcome.

    • #3
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:27 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  4. philo Member

    philo (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: …do you think there’s a chance this trend can be reversed?

    Delayed, yes. (Thank you DJT.) But reversal is highly unlikely. The normalization of corruption and institutional sclerosis we have today are simply too much inertia to overcome.

    And thank you for the feel [good] piece on a special day for The Red, White, and Blue.

    • #4
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:30 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  5. Bob Thompson Member

    All the elements you saw are still in place and the battle is being waged with this coming election being the decisive action.

    Some things have changed since you wrote that quote:

    The House is Democrat

    There is a functioning Attorney General

    We have a new DNI

    And a pandemic

    • #5
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:35 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    philo (View Comment):

    philo (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: …do you think there’s a chance this trend can be reversed?

    Delayed, yes. (Thank you DJT.) But reversal is highly unlikely. The normalization of corruption and institutional sclerosis we have today are simply too much inertia to overcome.

    And thank you for the feel goog piece on a special day for The Red, White, and Blue.

    You’re welcome!

    But you’re right. Memorial Day is a somber day for me. It should be more celebratory.

    • #6
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:48 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Bob Thompson Member

     

    Dr. Bastiat:

     

    It’s been nearly two and a half years since I wrote the above passage. I don’t think anything has changed. Or perhaps it has, and I’m being overly cynical?

    What do you think?

    Is this threat to our country as serious as I’m making it out to be?

    And do you think there’s a chance this trend can be reversed?

    It’s the very last question that concerns me most. Donald Trump likes to say he got an electoral landslide but I think of it more along the lines of the margins within the states that went for him when they were not expected to. I think there is a part of the electorate that can have their vote shifted depending on the availability of factual information in the marketplace. But that factor is just one big question mark. Fox News is the most balanced of the major sources and may have the biggest audience but all the others combined reach a lot of people and present a limited picture. If Trump didn’t have twitter and the bully pulpit as POTUS he wouldn’t reach many Americans.The pandemic presents opportunities for both political parties. We’ll see how they do.

     

    • #7
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:45 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  8. Stad Thatcher

    Greatest external threat: China.

    Greatest internal threat: Leftism.

    Their goals are similar, and they are natural allies until China takes over. Then they kill our leftists, who haven’t studied enough history to see the media and intellectuals are the first to catch lead poisoning, if you catch my drift . . .

    • #8
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:50 PM PDT
    • 16 likes
  9. Barfly Member

    Dr. Bastiat:

    What do you think?

    Is this threat to our country as serious as I’m making it out to be?

    And do you think there’s a chance this trend can be reversed?

    I think that the left has been a threat to the American constitutional Republic since the beginning of the 20th century, and that threat became mortal with the election of the Shadecaster in 2008.

    I think that the trend could be reversed with two generations of genuine intellectual and moral education. To reverse it in less time would require upheaval attended by some level of violence. I can’t say whether it’d be better if we went for it, or if we just continue to try to manage the problem.

    It’s a long run vs. short run decision. The most important thing to keep in mind is that our lives are finite – and that cuts both ways. I’m a patriot with no dependents, and an ill-tempered redneck to boot, so I know what’d suit me best. But I respect my neighbors.

    • #9
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:52 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  10. Stad Thatcher

    Barfly (View Comment):
    I’m a patriot with no dependents, and an ill-tempered redneck to boot, so I know what’d suit me best.

    I’m thinking pickup truck, Jack Daniels, and a .357 magnum Smith and Wesson revolver . . .

    • #10
    • May 25, 2020, at 2:04 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. Fritz Member

    I am old enough to remember the Church hearings investigating abuses by the CIA, including certain assassination plots on foreign leaders and engaging in illegal domestic spying, back in the 70s. The reforms then put in place were to make sure those policy abuses, and violations of Americans’ civil liberties, would never happen again.

    Then, in the aftermath of 9/11/01, there was the amped-up Patriot Act and a host of related intelligence reforms, ostensibly to enable the myriad agencies to “connect the dots” so terrorists blind-siding Americans on our own soil would never happen again.

    Add to the foregoing the explosion in technological capabilities in the years since. An aside: had the NSA mass hoovering of all our telephone and other communications and data exchanges been in operation in 1971, there’d have been no need for a physical Watergate intrusion to plant a bug in the DNC headquarters, just call up the NSA.

    Each renewal of the FISC edifice brings more tweaks, ostensibly to prevent abuses. And we see how well that has turned out, when the abuse becomes policy.

    And now the pandemic has provided yet another opportunity to ramp up the surveillance state. A contact tracing capability will be mandatory in the next iPhone OS, I read.Where’s the outcry?

    People have become so accustomed to the convenience of GPS navigation, carrying their finances on their phones in their pockets, and other aspects of the electronic environment in which we fishes are all swimming, and younger folks seem so unconcerned with their own privacy based on their posts on social media, that privacy push-back may soon be a thing of the past.

    The 4th Amendment’s jurisprudence often turns on whether an accused had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in this or that location, circumstance, or situation. What happens when nobody ever expects privacy any more anywhere?

    • #11
    • May 25, 2020, at 2:08 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  12. Bob Thompson Member

    Fritz (View Comment):
    The 4th Amendment’s jurisprudence often turns on whether an accused had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in this or that location, circumstance, or situation. What happens when nobody ever expects privacy any more anywhere?

    We might not be here without the income tax and social security systems. By their very existence everyone (almost) was already hooked up, even without the hand-held devices.

    • #12
    • May 25, 2020, at 2:22 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Old Bathos Moderator

    The one nice thing about Nazis, Communists and Islamacists is their candor about intentions and outcomes. Other enemies of freedom are subtler and especially dangerous because they often do not admit to themselves what they seek.

    The misuse of intellect, an increasingly mindless credentialism all related to a rising form of narcissism animates this kind of attack. It is as if someone who claims to have studied the history, theory and symbolism of woodworking tools should rule over or even replace the actual carpenter or that one who wallowed in various intellectualisms for a prescribed number of years should be given the right to define sexuality, define permissible speech or regulate entire economic systems.

    Like the admirers of the emperor’s new clothes, the new enemies of freedom were oblivious to the self-satire of speeches about halting ocean’s rise delivered beneath the facade of a fake Greco-Roman temple. The important thing for them was that the ideation of smart people would become flesh and even rescue those of us stubbornly limited by our less grandiose, less artificial, less antagonistic relationship with a reality they think of as begging to be reprogrammed.

    Not enemies of God but beneficent beings whose undertakings would grant God a comfortable retirement and achieve the perfections He left undone for whatever reason.

    In recent events, who better than the self-regarding, holier-because-I’m-smarter-than-thou James Comey would carry forth in the arrogant zeitgeist of the Obamaistas and launch Russiagate on the too-clever-by-half premise of a Logan Act violation, a preposterously arcane stunt but which presumably demonstrated intellectual heft. Would the grownups in government of a previous American generation have tolerated, much less pulled something like this?

    The Green New Deal, the Great COVID Lockdown, Obergefell v. Hodges, Roe v. Wade and the new love of “democratic socialism” are all redolent of the sensibility that the vision of the anointed (in the phrase coined by the great Thomas Sowell) should triumph. All other rights, structures, values, traditions and freedoms be damned.

    The first amendment is now a danger because it pollutes the preferred narrative. The second must go, in part to disarm the people but mostly as a scapegoat for the violence attributable to the distopian Great Society. Due process does not apply to a defense against politically favored civil, administrative or criminal charges. Property is a privilege, not a right. Children are the property of society, not their families.

    Mussolini wishes he could have gone as far as the new Democratic Party (and the intellectuals and rich wastrels who own it) seeks to go. 

    • #13
    • May 25, 2020, at 3:01 PM PDT
    • 16 likes
  14. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Not enemies of God but beneficent beings whose undertakings would grant God a comfortable retirement and achieve the perfections He left undone for whatever reason.

    Bravo!

    • #14
    • May 25, 2020, at 3:19 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Bob Thompson Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The one nice thing about Nazis, Communists and Islamacists is their candor about intentions and outcomes. Other enemies of freedom are subtler and especially dangerous because they often do not admit to themselves what they seek.

     

    That’s why I suggest we go ahead and call them communists as the election campaign starts.

    They need to be shown exactly what one of their favorite expressions, ‘nobody is above the law’, actually means.

    • #15
    • May 25, 2020, at 3:20 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. Cow Girl Thatcher

    Dr. Bastiat: What motivation do they have to reduce their own influence, and thus reduce their own ability to do what they view as good for society?

    This whole mess is really quite unnerving, I’ll agree. And one aspect of it that is very disturbing to me is how easy it is to know or not know the same things as other Americans. For example: If you don’t watch Fox News, but exclusively get your info from the NYTimes, or WaPo, or CNN/other alphabet news outlets, you know an entirely different set of “facts” than the person who watches Fox News, too. Or who reads Ricochet, or listens to Andrew Klavan, or the other podcasts found here.

    That is what I find disconcerting. I have had conversations with some of my family members and their outlook, their “facts” are nothing like the ones I have. So…I don’t have those conversations anymore. I don’t need to destroy my family relationships over something that I have no power over anyway. My children are adults, and I want to continue to be part of their lives.

    Different facts. That is a serious problem. I doubt that, even if the Barr investigations turn up flashing neon signs that say “OBAMA IS A LIAR”, the people whose Trump hatred makes them rabid would believe it to be true. Maybe in about 75 years the country will be able to see what happened now. If there still is a United States of America at that point.

    • #16
    • May 25, 2020, at 3:35 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  17. Bob Thompson Member

    Cow Girl (View Comment):

    That is what I find disconcerting. I have had conversations with some of my family members and their outlook, their “facts” are nothing like the ones I have. So…I don’t have those conversations anymore. I don’t need to destroy my family relationships over something that I have no power over anyway. My children are adults, and I want to continue to be part of their lives.

     

    I run into this as well. Couple of days ago I was talking to my adult grandson and he mentioned that the HCQ drug that the President was touting had killed a number of people in a recent trial. I said the only trial I had heard reported where deaths were recorded after taking HCQ was the VA where many were elderly and with comorbidities and many the participants were in the ICU stage of the illness. I tried to explain that is not when anybody is suggesting the drug might help but it very likely was not the HCQ that killed them. But he and I are getting our information from different sources.

    • #17
    • May 25, 2020, at 3:53 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  18. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Greatest external threat: China.

    Greatest internal threat: Leftism.

    Their goals are similar, and they are natural allies until China takes over. Then they kill our leftists, who haven’t studied enough history to see the media and intellectuals are the first to catch lead poisoning, if you catch my drift . . .

    I never agreed with the Cultural Revolution, of course, but I really, really understood Mao’s motivation.

    • #18
    • May 25, 2020, at 4:07 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Barfly Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    … Other enemies of freedom are subtler and especially dangerous because they often do not admit to themselves what they seek.

    The misuse of intellect, …

    … oblivious … the ideation of smart people would become flesh …

    … who better than the self-regarding, holier-because-I’m-smarter-than-thou … ?

    A brilliant screed.

    • #19
    • May 25, 2020, at 4:26 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    … Other enemies of freedom are subtler and especially dangerous because they often do not admit to themselves what they seek.

    The misuse of intellect, …

    … oblivious … the ideation of smart people would become flesh …

    … who better than the self-regarding, holier-because-I’m-smarter-than-thou … ?

    A brilliant screed.

    Absolutely brilliant. 

    • #20
    • May 25, 2020, at 4:55 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Fritz (View Comment):
    The 4th Amendment’s jurisprudence often turns on whether an accused had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in this or that location, circumstance, or situation. What happens when nobody ever expects privacy any more anywhere?

    We might not be here without the income tax and social security systems. By their very existence everyone (almost) was already hooked up, even without the hand-held devices.

    The end of the gold standard and the beginning of social security signalled the turning point. Once government could grow by printing money the handwriting was on the wall. Several things make this worse: collective bargaining by government employees leads governmental entities to borrow money to pay for the obligations collective bargaining leads to. This is paid for, for a while, by printing money. Add in printing money to pay for parasitic drains on the economy like the regulatory state and the diversity enforcement apparatus, and things get worse. Allow an enemy to hold much of the resulting debt, and things get worse. Democracy rarely survives hyperinflation. Or massive deflation.

    The only possible way out to buy a significant amount of time is real economic growth; it’s not close to being a sure thing and this is why Democrats love them some SARS-CoV-2 and love lockdowns. China, the Democrats, and many large corporations benefit when the US economy is handicapped by the epidemic and handicapped by the adminstrative state.

    • #21
    • May 25, 2020, at 6:31 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  22. MarciN Member

    Comey looks like a character right out of Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead. Yuck. :-)

    • #22
    • May 25, 2020, at 6:34 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  23. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Barfly (View Comment):
    I’m a patriot

    I am surprised how few patriots there are in the deep state. Why can the Team Obama corrupt so many organizations with nobody leaking information out? 

    • #23
    • May 25, 2020, at 7:24 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. The Reticulator Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    That’s why I suggest we go ahead and call them communists as the election campaign starts.

    How will that help?

    • #24
    • May 25, 2020, at 7:32 PM PDT
    • Like
  25. Bob Thompson Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    That’s why I suggest we go ahead and call them communists as the election campaign starts.

    How will that help?

    If someone is curious and doesn’t have knowledge of what a communist is, they have something they can look into and in the meantime the Chinese government can be held up as an example of what you get.

    • #25
    • May 25, 2020, at 7:40 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    I’m a patriot

    I am surprised how few patriots there are in the deep state. Why can the Team Obama corrupt so many organizations with nobody leaking information out?

    Because they think they are patriots and the Right are evil.

    • #26
    • May 25, 2020, at 7:43 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  27. The Reticulator Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    That’s why I suggest we go ahead and call them communists as the election campaign starts.

    How will that help?

    If someone is curious and doesn’t have knowledge of what a communist is, they have something they can look into and in the meantime the Chinese government can be held up as an example of what you get.

    A lot of people think they have knowledge of how the term communist has been used. I’m afraid use of the term would interfere with investigation of just what is wrong with their program. When Hillary slaps a label like “deplorable” on us, does that cause us to pick up a dictionary and then look into what is so deplorable about us? Did it cause any of those on her own side to do any investigation? 

    I’ll also trot out one of my own old sayings here: The reason the Soviet Communist system worked as well as it did was because they didn’t have American university leftists helping them run their system.

    • #27
    • May 25, 2020, at 9:14 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  28. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I’ll also trot out one of my own old sayings here: The reason the Soviet Communist system worked as well as it did was because they didn’t have American university leftists helping them run their system.

    I’m probably stealing that.

    • #28
    • May 26, 2020, at 3:49 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Ralphie Member

    Most professions seek to grow. Go to a quick oil change, and they come up with a list of other items you need to have addressed. Up selling seems to be the American Way. When government fails its intended social mission, it is because they need more money and people. Always seems to be the only solution.

    Most people are corruptable but don’t think they are. The good rule followers will enforce bad rules, and the most successful in most organizations are good rule followers. Systems have lives of their own.

    • #29
    • May 26, 2020, at 5:32 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  30. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fritz (View Comment):
    Add to the foregoing the explosion in technological capabilities in the years since. An aside: had the NSA mass hoovering of all our telephone and other communications and data exchanges been in operation in 1971, there’d have been no need for a physical Watergate intrusion to plant a bug in the DNC headquarters, just call up the NSA.

    The NSA was doing all that in 1972.

    The difference was that Nixons people knew they had to keep the official bureaucracy out of it.

    Obama weaponized the bureaucracy.

    Edit: Or to put it another way, Nixon was an honest crook.

    • #30
    • May 26, 2020, at 5:54 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
    • This comment has been edited.