AMPAS Gold Standard Series
In 2008 and 2012 voters put into office a man who promised to usher in a new era of transparency when it came to the federal government. Who knew that transparency requires secret email accounts that the government will try and charge you $1 million dollars for, in violation of the very mechanism (i.e., Freedom of Information Act) that is supposed to help individuals keep federal officials honest.

The Associated Press Reports:

The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees’ email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses. …

The secret email accounts complicate an agency’s legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions. …

Courts have consistently set a high bar for the government to withhold public officials’ records under the federal privacy rules. A federal judge, Marilyn Hall Patel of California, said in August 2010 that “persons who have placed themselves in the public light” – such as through politics or voluntarily participation in the public arena – have a “significantly diminished privacy interest than others.” Her ruling was part of a case in which a journalist sought FBI records, but was denied. …

Obama pledged during his first week in office to make government more transparent and open. The nation’s signature open-records law, he said in a memo to his Cabinet, would be “administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.”

Wrong. President Obama meant: “When in doubt, charge people $1 million dollars, and then back track if they call you on it.”

This past weekend my brother emailed me in response to my piece on insurance companies. My response touched on the effects of an ever-expansive federal bureaucracy:

From what I gather on health care, the more regulations that have been passed, the more the kind of crap we’re dealing with metastasizes (to stick with the medical terminology). Just like everything else, there will always be greedy or corrupt people, but the more hallways and corridors the government creates, the more places there are for such individuals to hide their unscrupulous sides. We’re not inside the companies or the federal government agencies connected with them, so we can’t zoom out to 30,000 feet to see the labyrinth. They know this. They know that there are few policy experts who get it, and those people work at places like Heritage or Cato or wherever … so their reach is limited. And since most of those experts are data heads, they don’t know how to explain it in ways the man on the street can understand. They can’t reference ‘Fight Club’ or some random other movies to help people make the connection. They start talking in acronyms and using charts and graphs and numbers and before you know it the “Average Joe” throws up his arms and goes to play the newest ‘Gears of War’ on his XBox.

Why does the Tea Party exist? Why did Occupy pop up? Why does Anonymous exist? The reason is because the government labyrinth is so complex and so dizzying that the worst parts of human nature are hiding in its shadows with all the confidence in the world that it is immune from accountability. But it isn’t. People are angry and frustrated because they know that this sort of thing isn’t right. Their anger is now exponentially exacerbated because President Obama didn’t just run for office as a change agent — he wanted you to believe he was the ultimate change agent.

Right now the anger is muted because instead of admitting the truth there are millions of Obama voters who are still deluding themselves. Instead of focusing on an administration that wire taps the Associated Press (I wonder why?) and denies or drags its feet on Freedom of Information Act requests, the kids have convinced themselves that the world needs to address gay marriage or abortion laws that were settled by the Supreme Court about a half-century ago.

Get ready for Project Mayhem, because every week that passes suggests that the powers that be are not interested in returning to our founding principles, and the more divorced we get from those principles the more likely it is that it will all end very, very badly.

This is your fearless space monkey signing out.

Best,

Doug

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

14 comments

  1. Great post, Doug! And you exemplify everything that is wrong with the American public: focusing on gay “marriage” or abortion laws that were resolved with Roe vs Wade instead of taking this corrupt administration that uses the IRS against its opponents or wire taps the AP or names James Rosen as a “co-conspirator” or the fact that we are $17 trillion in debt.

    1. Thanks, Carl. My opinion is that this is a hollow economy, and that it’s going to implode within a few years if systemic problems aren’t addressed. I don’t see how the debt can continue to keep going up, up, up … without that happening. There are ways to play accounting tricks, but sooner or later they’re going to run. When that happens: Game over.

  2. and when you realize both sides are equally corrupt and behave in very similar ways, ye shall truly be liberated 😉

    1. I asked a former Republican Congressman how he stayed grounded when he was in office. His answer: “I didn’t.”

      The old maxim about power corrupting … is true. That’s why I am for stripping away as much power from the federal government as possible (while still having mechanisms in place to care for the truly needy). I don’t trust any politicians. Even the few that I really like I’m watching like a hawk… That is healthy. What isn’t is what happened in 2008, where millions of Americans looked to one man to save them. Never a good idea unless the guy we’re talking about was born in a manger.

    2. I have to exercise. I might address that later, but that’s not true. Not by a long shot.

      With that said, feel free to back up your assertion with specifics reasons at any time. I will gladly respond to them as time permits.

    3. Let’s go back to my Banksy post, where one of my best friends said the following:

      Talking biblically to them is difficult because belief in God forces you to acknowledge you are a sinner, which forces you to look at yourself. It’s much easier to blame the system. The reward is heaven. Jesus dies a horrible death, St. Paul dies a horrible death, 11 of the 12 apostles meet an end at human hands, and yet they didn’t “blame the system” — they kept trying to do what’s right (Jesus didn’t have to “try,” but you get my point). Even Judas took some sort of personal responsibility and threw the silver away and killed himself in shame realizing what he did. You will never get that mindset in their world.

      First off, I love it when agnostics/atheists rail against Christians for twisting Jesus’ words to suit their own ends … right before they say things like, “Christ would have hated capitalism.” Interesting, to say the least.

      Jesus was a smart guy, and while I can use scripture to show how flawed your statement is, I’d rather stick to the bigger picture. The first thing a Christian needs to do is to acknowledge he is a sinner, and to do that you must look inward. Change comes from within. I do not think Jesus gave two hoots about what would one day be called capitalism or socialism or Communism because what matters is what is going on in the individual’s heart and soul.

      Once you realize that you are a sinner and that we are all sinners, then it becomes obvious that all man-made systems are broken. All of us are fallible, and it doesn’t matter where you grow up you are still warped timber.

      God wants you to be happy. God wants you to realize your full potential. He wants you to have abundance in your life — but He also wants you to love your fellow man and to have spiritual richness. Generosity and kindness are keys to happiness. Giving unto others will boomerang back onto you in the best possible ways. But one way to be generous is to actually create wealth. And to create wealth you need to have property rights. And the system that has proven itself time and time again to honor property rights and create the conditions for wealth to thrive is capitalism.

      If I wanted to play your game, I’d say that what would be more in line with Jesus’ teachings would be a hearty dismantling of the welfare state because it would put the onus back onto individuals to care for each other. It would put the onus on communities to love and care for their neighbor. The rich could not hide behind “I pay ‘x’ percentage of my income to the feds every year! They’re bleeding me dry!” Charity — true charity — would then be the key to bringing forth a better world.

      If the federal government takes a chunk out of my paycheck and gives it to someone, should I be able to pat myself on the back for a job well done? Of course not. There is zero “charity” on my part if the money was forcibly removed from my bank account.

      Likewise, look at the Islamic world. They talk about how debauched the West is (and on some level, they’re right). But the difference is that we are free to choose whether we are a good person or a bad person. If someone sticks a gun to your wife’s head and forces her to dress modestly, how does that make her a better person than the woman who could dress like a slut, but of her own free will chooses to wear something respectable? It doesn’t. Would I rather live in a country where there’s a strip club down the street that I willingly choose not to walk into, or a country where they would burn such an establishment to the ground? The choice is obvious.

      What you fail to understand is that I do not care one bit whether the guy next to me has a billion dollars in his bank account. If I did, I’d be letting envy and jealousy into my heart. Let him have his money. It means nothing. Let Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno fill up airport hangers with cars. I do not care. God knows what is in their hearts and he will decide their fate. The only thing I do know is that if they’re looking for fulfillment in material goods they will not find it. You would think after having 100 cars they’d stop and say, “Why am I still not happy? Why do I keep buying more and more and more? It’s weird.” But they don’t. All I can do is say a prayer for them that they’ll realize what is truly meaningful sooner rather than later.

      Jesus does not care whether you are a capitalist or a socialist, Lizard19. He does not care that I identify as a conservative for the purposes of this blog. He cares about what is in our hearts.

  3. we can both make our cases, because the Bible can be selectively quoted to justify just about anything:

    It’s fascinating how frequently modern dilettantes re-make Christ in their image via Matthew 25. Socialists finesse Scripture to justify redistributing wealth to “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), while capitalists overplay the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Both tout Christ’s teachings as a crucial trump card.

  4. It has certainly gotten REALLY bad!!! The novel 1984 comes to mind (interesting todaly, that novel was published 63 years ago today. Sadly, we have given up a lot of freedom in the name of security this past decade.

  5. And now, we have the NSA scandal. It amazes me how Obama thinks we have to trade freedom for security but in 2007 he was dead set against warrantless wiretapping. Again, it’s the hypocrisy of the left. What was bad under George W. Bush is now considered acceptable under Barack Obama.

    1. Here’s the thing: I know that these are uber-complex issues. Technology is moving faster than plodding government bureaucrats can figure it out. I get it. They’re charged with keeping us safe, but at the same time the world is moving faster and faster and faster. Some people don’t get the tech. Some people want more time to figure out their political talking points (those lowest of the low who play politics with national security). And so, when the government doesn’t understand something it decides to just control it. All of it.

      I’d cut Obama some slack, but this guy ran as if he was Superman. He’s the same guy who said that the oceans would begin fall the moment he was elected … How do you go easy on a guy like that? Millions of kids voted for this guy and you could look at them and see how devoted they were. He was (and still is to many) a cult figure. He didn’t just over promise and under deliver a random mish-mash of policy changes — Obama promised the world and has generally delivered squat. And, in many cases, he’s Bush on steroids (e.g., drones, NSA spying).

      So where are the protests on the college campuses and in the streets? Crickets chirping. The hard core left has zero moral authority on defense issues right now. Zero.

    2. Exactly right. There used to be frequent anti-Iraq War protests in front of a Barnes and Noble by where I live, almost every Saturday. Ever since Obama became President, they’ve disappeared completely.

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