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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Partisan Nation

The use of the IRS to target conservative groups should be the least surprising development in years. Not only does that sort of thing date back to Clinton and JFK, both of whom unleashed the IRS on their enemies, not to mention Nixon who never managed to pull off the things that JFK grinned, did and got away with, but there was no reason for not to do it.

The two reasons not to sic the IRS on your enemies are decency and the law. Is there anything in Obama's career, including his treatment of fellow Democrats, to suggest that he cares for either one?

The man in the White House clawed his way to power by stabbing his mentor in the back, leaking the divorce records of his political opponents and throwing out the votes of Democrats in Florida and Michigan to claim the nomination.

And he was just getting started.

In the last election, Obama urged voters to punish our "enemies". It was a window into the mindset of a man who moans and groans about partisan politics, but talks like Huey Long when he gets in front of the right audience.

But these days the description is fairly apt. Who was the last president that both sides could agree was an okay sort of guy or something less than the devil incarnate? The answer might be George H. W. Bush, who was pilloried for being an out of touch rich guy, but really not all that bad when you think about it. And that means we have to go back two decades to find a president that the other side didn't think should be put on an ice floe and pushed out to sea.

And before Bush I, we would have to go back all the way to the Eisenhower or Truman era. Politics was never nice. It was often very nasty indeed. But this isn't the petty infighting of the political class anymore. We're not talking about Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr shooting it out or Eleanor Roosevelt driving a car with a teapot on its roof behind Theodore Roosevelt Jr to keep him away from the job that would eventually go to her husband. This is a partisan politics born out of ideology.

The old politics sought a status quo that could be tweaked to favor one side or interest. The new ideological politics seek a fundamental transformation that will entirely destroy the status quo and eventually tear out every element, overturn every trace of what was and replace it with what should be. Ideological partisanship of this stripe is not concerned with the stability of the system. It is not worried about burning bridges because it believes all the bridges will have to be burned anyway.

There is a limit to what any political movement can do out of greed or personal vendettas in a democracy, but there is no limit to what it can do when it combines these with a political ideology whose ends justify all means. There is nothing that it will not do because it is unconcerned with the long term consequences of its actions, only with the short term results. It has no long term investment in the existing system which it intends to destroy.

Corrupt ideologies treat men with no decency as valuable assets. Their lack of scruples proves their willingness to put ideology over all mores and norms. The more extreme the ideology, the fewer limits it accepts on its freedom of action against its enemies and the more such actions come to seem natural. And then why not punish your enemies by using the full force of government against them?

The practical reason for not using government agencies to repress your opposition in a democracy was that they might do the same thing to you. But the mobilization of the bureaucracy as an arm of the left has made that fear largely irrelevant. Using the IRS to target Democrats would be dangerous business for a Republican. And the same would go for every other Federal agency whose appointees may be loosely conservative, but oversee organizations stuffed full of liberals and union members.

There is no such deterrent on the other side. And the only remaining deterrent, the fear of public exposure was largely nullified by the media. The impression was that Obama Inc. could do anything it pleased and get away with it. And so it did.

A system of checks and balances only works if the participants are bound by some higher code than ideology. Ethics is no longer a defining code. Neither is Americanism or democracy or any of the other things that politicians made speeches about back in the 19th and 20th. The infrastructure of the left has eclipsed all other bonds and connections. It has collective goals and a power structure that runs through public and private organizations mobilized for a common purpose.

That renders the old rules mostly meaningless. Suggestions to be considered, if the various organs, the oversight groups, the bureaucracies and the media are in the mood. And if they are, then they may pay a little attention to the latest abuse of power. If they're not, they won't.

It's easy to compare Obama to Nixon, but the comparison is wrong. Nixon had lost faith in the entire idea of rules. He had floundered in a corrupt system for so long that he had to sacrifice everything he believed in to get ahead only to still be hemmed in on all sides. Obama never believed in rules and never compromised on anything except on a temporary basis. Nixon was angry, but Obama is blithe.

It's not a post-rules world. But it's a world where force determines which rules apply to whom.

Obama will illegally and unilaterally impose rules and laws on others, but he won't follow any rules or laws, even those in the Constitution. It's tyranny, but handled with a post-everything flair as if abuse of power is a dot com thing like not having a business model. Using the IRS to suppress rival political organizations is treated like one of those new data management techniques. Just another clever out-of-the-box tool in a game of everything goes.

And why shouldn't everything go?

Government isn't really an institution anymore, it's a toolset. If you break the tools, they can be replaced. Fire some people, hire consultants to rebrand or rename an entire agency and then you're back in business. History doesn't matter. Neither does the public trust. Everything exists only to fulfill the goals of the moment.

In the old politics, maintaining the institutions of government was the greater goal. In the new politics, government is a means to an end. The end may still be government, but it isn't a thing of institutions, but of ideologues. It doesn't matter whether it's 200 years or 200 minutes old. The 200 minutes old one is more likely to be up on the latest trends in nudging people into the right corners.

Technocrat ideologues don't value existing institutions and the left justifies its existence by destroying whatever exists in the name of reform.

Forward! means that are constantly moving ahead without looking back, except when it comes time to blame some current shortcoming on George W. Bush and his evil regime. It means that we are constantly destroying in the name of building. Everything must go so it can be remade in the more perfect image of the Harvard professors who know just how to do everything even if they have never done a thing in their life.

Obama is not a creature of the old partisan politics of a balance of power. He prefers imbalances. He chooses chaos. By exercising power he destroys and in his ideological sphere, that destruction is creative. Destroying health care will usher in national health care. Destroying public trust in government will usher in an even more oppressive government.

There is nothing American about the new partisan politics. They are purely Post-American, a breath of hot air from the coming system that will have no rules except power and no law except force. And this game is one in which the lack of a binding ideology is fatal.

To assume that your opponents have any decency, as the Republicans habitually do, is to be left behind in Politics 1.0. In Politics 2.0, the utter lack of decency is proof of integrity. To truly believe, you must have no ethics. To truly care about people, the environment, little children in the ghetto, polar bears, recycled rubber shoes, corporate welfare and LGBT workplaces, you must not have any standards when it comes to what you do.

In Partisan Nation, you would use the IRS against your enemies because it's there. And what else is it good for except reminding you that the taxpayers don't have enough money to cover a new light rail system across the country or free bikes for all? In Partisan Nation, trust doesn't matter because the default assumption is that everyone can be lied to non-stop or barraged with so much propaganda that they will do what they are supposed to. In Partisan Nation, America doesn't matter, winning does.


27 comments:

Bruce said...

America is being made an offer it can't refuse,

Either:
"Suck it up and submit", or,
"Civil War, the season return".

Either is a losing proposition for "real people" and for the last remains of American exceptionalism and its attendant liberties.

Why?

In the first scenario, Real People will be stripped if their remaining liberties and "non-conformists" marched off for "attitude adjustment".

In the second, the slaughter will be wholesale, just like the last time, except that the civilian population will not only suffer "collateral damage", but large chunks of those areas housing or sheltering "real people" will be deliberately targeted. And just as a twist; just as during the previous bout of fraternal slaughter, several major foreign powers will be in the game, mostly to the detriment of "real people".

Choose a side, make your preparations and make peace with the deity of your choice.

Joan of Argghh! said...

I can see that my need to speak to the blogosphere has been tidily and expertly erased by this prophetic, spiritual insight into the disease of our State. It's everything I've ever wanted to say, politically, and there's and end on it.

Thanks, Daniel! I feel quite liberated from blogging anymore. Gonna enjoy my new boat-home.

Bless you.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Joan, enjoy the boat, but do keep writing. It takes all of us to do this

Anonymous said...

Daniel, I found this statement of yours very depressing,"the mobilization of the bureaucracy as an arm of the left, ........ stuffed full of liberals and union members". And what can we do to oust these entrenched bureaucrats and protected union members? Answer...nothing. I feel as helpless as Yossarian in Hellers, "Catch 22".

Dennis Latham said...

I think Bruce has lost his faith in the real American people to resist aggression foreign or domestic. If by foreign powers, he means UN troops. The Blue Hats will be buried in this country. There is, despite popular belief slammed into us by the media, a vast massive underground who will fight to the death, either out of patriotism or pure despair because there is nothing else for them to do. It will be hard and millions will die but in the end the country will hold.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Anon,

shut down as much of the bureaucracy as possible, tangle the rest

it's the only way forward

Horace Staccato said...

The IRS has a long history of petty, angry, intimidating behavior towards anyone who even remotely questions their authority. They are the very prototype of a grasping, brutal Leftist tyranny.

Note that ObamaCare has been given to the criminals at the IRS for implementation. That is because ObamaCare has nothing to do with health care. It is simply a cynical power and money grab by a malignant Leftist government that is the enemy of its own country and its most productive citizens.

The whole point of ObamaCare is to destroy the private health insurance and providers so that government can step in and "solve" the very problem created by the government in the first place, and quality health care is the government's last priority. It's a massive socialist transfer of wealth to affirmative-action parasites.

Again, we shouldn't be surprised. Obama himself is an affirmative-action parasite as well as being a common criminal. Perhaps the most destructive effect of ObamaCare will be the fact that an invasive Left will turn the health care system into a giant affirmative-action patronage system.

Say hello to your new doctor: Dr. DeShawn Lexus Jefferson

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Horace, in many places it already is. And has been for a while. If they succeed in unionizing doctors, then the quality of medicine will completely tank.

IgorR said...

It will be interesting to see whether any of the scandals that are just beginning will really trigger any unexpected reactions in the population. If only the right is disgusted, the only point would be better turn out in the next election, which is important but not enough. Have more than 50% of the country been totally acclimated to ANY amount of indecency in the public sphere just as long as the NYT frames it in a positive, non-threatening way? We shall see.

Empress Trudy said...

It's not completely black, since politics is now little more than a job interview for a better job in the media, etc. It used to be that there was revolving door between the government and government contractors and foreign governments. Now there's a revolving door between government and mass media. So why they have a bigger badder megaphone, they have less covert ability to screw us over.

Anonymous said...

"To assume that your opponents have any decency, as the Republicans habitually do, is to be left behind in Politics 1.0. In Politics 2.0, the utter lack of decency is proof of integrity. To truly believe, you must have no ethics. To truly care about people, the environment, little children in the ghetto, polar bears, recycled rubber shoes, corporate welfare and LGBT workplaces, you must not have any standards when it comes to what you do."

I'm re-reading Friedrich Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" and he points out the reality that we are heading towards totalitarianism.

WHY THE WORST GET ON TOP

"Just as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian leader would have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous are likely to be more successful in a society tending towards totalitarianism. The totalitarian leader must collect around him a group which is prepared voluntarily to submit to that discipline they are to impose by force upon the rest of the people.

The old socialist parties were inhibited by their democratic ideals; they didn't possess the ruthlessness required for the performance of their chosen task.

Advancement within a totalitarian group or party depends largely on a willingness to do immoral things. The principle that the ends justify the means, which in individualist ethics is regarded as the denial of all morals, in collective ethics becomes necessarily the supreme rule. There is literally nothing the collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves "the good of the whole," because that is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done.

Once you admit that the individual is merely a means to serve the ends of the higher entity called society or the nation, most of those features of totalitarianism which horrify us follow of necessity. From the collectivist standpoint intolerance and brutal suppression of dissent, deception and spying, the complete disregard of the life and happiness of the individual are essential and unavoidable. Acts which revolt all our feelings, such as the shooting of hostages or the killing of the old or sick, are treated as mere matters of expediency."

Elaine

Anonymous said...

Horace: As others have pointed out, we live under socialism which began with the creation of the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs. These programs served to incrementally condition people into becoming dependent upon the government. Obamacare is simply an extension of socialism into the lives of everyone, not just the elderly, disabled and poor. It guarantees a government of coercion and power over every life from birth to death.

Elaine

DenisO said...

Daniel, as usual, has done an excellent job of defining the problem, and clearing up the confusing tangles in many of our minds. Thankfully, he did not conclude that our system of self governing is over. Some have suggested peaceful methods of change are no longer possible. As I counsel my more impetuous young friends, the Country has been in worse hands and survived. Additionally, we still have the Courts and the election booths on our side, although those balancers are always the focus of determined efforts to nullify them.
Remember Obama has never accomplished anything, other than jumping onto the entrenched Chicago power-thru-mugging train. Where those Courts and election booths are corrupted, they have allowed him to penetrate the defenses and be in position to destroy from within. His hubris is his Achilles heel, and hubris has brought down more intelligent and competent men. The self-doubting, angry Demorat Party hates all criticism and opponents, so it has happily handed Obama the matches to burn down their, and our, houses. Destruction, once it starts, is very hard to limit and control. IMO, the walls have begun coming down around his big, ugly ears, as we speak. The N.Y. Times will try to hide the fact, as will the rest of the media. Can't hide the smell, though.

johnnyreb said...

Daniel is a voice in the wilderness.

Power comes from the barrel of a gun. Those that would subjugate us should remember that also holds true for revenge, retrobution, and justice.

Carl Stevenson said...

The tyrants in the Obama regime and their bankster, globalist cronies are getting ready for the collapse that they’ve deliberately created as an excuse to try to grab total control. It won’t work. There is a growing push towards resistance, and it is not constrained to the fringes – the first mistake the tyrants in DC make is to assume that.
Practically every militarily significant weapon made in the last 100 years has sold. 4.6 million weapon sales in 30 days and empty ammo shelves is not a panic – it’s battlespace preparation.
The second mistake they make is to try to assert that this trend is about racism because Obama is half-black. That’s a cop-out used to demonize and divide – It’s an easy excuse to ignore another person’s points, and justify doing bad things to them; it's an attempt to convince people that those who oppose the regime's policies and actions are evil or deranged.
Their final mistake is to assume that the military and law enforcement agencies will follow orders to disarm their fellow Americans. The military and police are a sub-section of the total population, and will break along the same ideological lines.
Some police and military members will follow orders. Many, probably most, will disobey, desert, and rebel against orders to attack, imprison, or murder their families, neighbors, and fellow patriots to prop up a corrupt and tyrannical regime.
This has been played out time and time again in human history.
Statist politicians should not assume an insurrection will end easily, nor that those they've demonized will go quietly into the dark night, nor that they personally will not suffer if it blows up.
Never let your government disarm you and render you defenseless against their excesses.
It will be up to the American people to solve the problems the tyrants and banksters have created as a means to steal our wealth and strip us of our liberty.
After the tyrants are removed from power, they and their partners in crimes against the Constitution and the American people need to be tried in a modern day version of the Nuremberg Trials, here on American soil, by American citizens who are loyal to the Constitution, then punished according to their crimes. Treason is punishable by death. Keep the faith, justice will ultimately be served.

Carl Stevenson said...

The tyrants in the Obama regime and their bankster, globalist cronies are getting ready for the collapse that they’ve deliberately created as an excuse to try to grab total control. It won’t work. There is a growing push towards resistance, and it is not constrained to the fringes – the first mistake the tyrants in DC make is to assume that.
Practically every militarily significant weapon made in the last 100 years has sold. 4.6 million weapon sales in 30 days and empty ammo shelves is not a panic – it’s battlespace preparation.
The second mistake they make is to try to assert that this trend is about racism because Obama is half-black. That’s a cop-out used to demonize and divide – It’s an easy excuse to ignore another person’s points, and justify doing bad things to them; it's an attempt to convince people that those who oppose the regime's policies and actions are evil or deranged.
Their final mistake is to assume that the military and law enforcement agencies will follow orders to disarm their fellow Americans. The military and police are a sub-section of the total population, and will break along the same ideological lines.
Some police and military members will follow orders. Many, probably most, will disobey, desert, and rebel against orders to attack, imprison, or murder their families, neighbors, and fellow patriots to prop up a corrupt and tyrannical regime.
This has been played out time and time again in human history.
Statist politicians should not assume an insurrection will end easily, nor that those they've demonized will go quietly into the dark night, nor that they personally will not suffer if it blows up.
Never let your government disarm you and render you defenseless against their excesses.
It will be up to the American people to solve the problems the tyrants and banksters have created as a means to steal our wealth and strip us of our liberty.
After the tyrants are removed from power, they and their partners in crimes against the Constitution and the American people need to be tried in a modern day version of the Nuremberg Trials, here on American soil, by American citizens who are loyal to the Constitution, then punished according to their crimes. Treason is punishable by death. Keep the faith, justice will ultimately be served.

Carl Stevenson said...

The tyrants in the Obama regime and their bankster, globalist cronies are getting ready for the collapse that they’ve deliberately created as an excuse to try to grab total control. It won’t work. There is a growing push towards resistance, and it is not constrained to the fringes – the first mistake the tyrants in DC make is to assume that.
Practically every militarily significant weapon made in the last 100 years has sold. 4.6 million weapon sales in 30 days and empty ammo shelves is not a panic – it’s battlespace preparation.
The second mistake they make is to try to assert that this trend is about racism because Obama is half-black. That’s a cop-out used to demonize and divide – It’s an easy excuse to ignore another person’s points, and justify doing bad things to them; it's an attempt to convince people that those who oppose the regime's policies and actions are evil or deranged.
Their final mistake is to assume that the military and law enforcement agencies will follow orders to disarm their fellow Americans. The military and police are a sub-section of the total population, and will break along the same ideological lines.
Some police and military members will follow orders. Many, probably most, will disobey, desert, and rebel against orders to attack, imprison, or murder their families, neighbors, and fellow patriots to prop up a corrupt and tyrannical regime.
This has been played out time and time again in human history.
Statist politicians should not assume an insurrection will end easily, nor that those they've demonized will go quietly into the dark night, nor that they personally will not suffer if it blows up.
Never let your government disarm you and render you defenseless against their excesses.
It will be up to the American people to solve the problems the tyrants and banksters have created as a means to steal our wealth and strip us of our liberty.
After the tyrants are removed from power, they and their partners in crimes against the Constitution and the American people need to be tried in a modern day version of the Nuremberg Trials, here on American soil, by American citizens who are loyal to the Constitution, then punished according to their crimes. Treason is punishable by death. Keep the faith, justice will ultimately be served.

Carl Stevenson said...

BATFE has also been historically brutal, corrupt, and evil. Look at Ruby Ridge and Waco for just two prominent examples. Today the EPA and other bureaucracies are tyrannically crushing people who don't tow the party line of the Obama regime.
There is nothing too evil or despicable for the regime to use to crush, intimidate and destroy its enemies ( normal, freedom loving Americans)

Hitler would have been envious of the resources available to Obama. Several generations have been hoodwinked and brainwashed through "public education" and a compliant, leftist media to see the leviathan of government as their protector and provider, rather than the oppressor it has become.
I would submit that we are at a worse place than Germany was just before Hitler's total takeover and that Obama is capable of even greater evil than Hitler and Stalin combined.
Just think, Obama admires Mao ... He has Mao ornaments on the WH Christmas tree.
“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” – Mao
Obama and his inner circle revere Mao and the way he ruthlessly grabbed power in China. The fact that he murdered about 100 million Chinese to do it is, to them, a “feature,” not a “bug."
Wake up and smell the tyranny! 

Carl Stevenson said...

History shows that tyrants always employ (and are supported by) people of weak character, including thugs, barbarians, and sociopathic psychopaths. They are more willing and easily persuaded to commit the tyrant's atrocities than normal people.

Anonymous said...

"The old politics sought a status quo that could be tweaked to favor one side or interest."

yup. NOW they are just twerkin' it.

danfan

Fodderwing said...

All is not lost. They are not invincible. Their goals are not inevitable. Our goals are possible. We are many. We are learning hard lessons at this moment, but we will learn them. Keep faith.

fsy said...


There is a limit to what any political movement can do out of greed or personal vendettas in a democracy, but there is no limit to what it can do when it combines these with a political ideology whose ends justify all means.


Watch the "You didn't build that" speech, and it's easy to see that the words, tone and mannerisms are all patterned on a sermon by a preacher. That speech actually makes sense when the punchline is "Thank God for what He gave you" rather than "Thank Government (and give it everything you have)". We are up against a very powerful established religion.

Anonymous said...

Ayn Rand said it best "You can ignore reality but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality."

The MSM has been willfully ignoring the reality that is Obama...the consequences of that choice are becoming apparent and one can only hope that "the chickens are coming home to roost."

Anonymous said...

Don't think for one second that Obama and his fellow ideologues won't use Obamacare as a means of silent genocide against conservative 'haters' and 'wingnuts' and Tea Party 'terrorists' in order to extinguish dissent.

From the beginning, this has been Obama's real intent and he has used every agency as a means of punishment and partisan advantage. He has also usurped power with over 1000 executive orders giving himself unprecedented and unconstitutional powers.

PC means Punitive Conformity and also Population Control (in more ways than one).

Sibyl S.

Anonymous said...

I usually agree with your essays, but here I think you are suffering from historical myopia. American politics have always been about the destruction of political enemies by any means necessary.

Obama's just a bit more naked about it, thanks to his personality, 3rd World upbringing, and a lack of sufficient people-skills to keep the knifework better hidden.

Civilized disagreement in national politics would be great — except it has never existed.

This is the reason why we need a much smaller and more limited government. Such a beast does less damage because its reach is shorter and more of human life lies outside its grasp

The bind this country has gotten itself into has taken a century to develop. Progressive leftism destroys economies and social fabrics precisely because it has no built-in limits short of utter ruin. Unless sharply checked, sooner or later Leviathan takes all.

We can't make politics look and act like a debating society among angels. What we can do, however, is cut down the size, scope, and grasp of the federal government. And we'd damn well better get cracking on that task — our futures depend on it.

Akaky said...

kto kogo?

Akaky said...

kto kogo? Lenin was right; that's what it comes down to.

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