I imagine that most presidents reach a point where they feel as if the White House is one gigantic, well decorated chicken coop and all — or at least many — of their chickens are coming flapping home.
President Obama appears to be in the chickens-come-flapping-home phase of his presidency. It turns out that his chickens look a lot like vultures and the carrion they’ve been feeding on is the Constitution.
Richard Nixon has his infamous “Enemies List” of people who got audited by the IRS and otherwise harassed by the government. He never got publicly called out on it, but I think Ronald Reagan did too.
The reason I say that about President Reagan (who, I realize, is a bit of a minor deity to a lot of people,) is because I, and a lot of my Democratic colleagues ran afoul of something that looked suspiciously like partisan attacks by the government. Many of us were audited by the IRS, and I don’t mean just audited, we were put through a heavy wash cycle in which we had to verify every single line on our income tax report. Married? Produce your marriage license. Own your home? Show us the deed.
The IRS camped out in our kitchen and audited our one page report for weeks. We didn’t own businesses or have complex issues in that report. We didn’t drive expensive cars, live in a fancy house or otherwise live large. We had our salaries, regular paychecks, and that was all. We spent thousands, producing records for them, but unfortunately, we couldn’t produce them all. Some of the bank’s records were fogged.
In the end, they said that every dime we deposited in our checking account that we couldn’t provide a record for was unreported income. This meant that every deposit on those fogged records was charged as unreported income. They charged us for wedding gifts and birthday presents of less than fifty dollars, for small (one or two hundred dollar) transfers from our savings to our checking. They even charged us for our income tax return from the previous year. Every single deposit to our checking account which we could not source in writing got charged as unreported income.
Then, they added fines and fees and interest on top this. It came to $5,000 we owed on a simple, one-page report.
On the other side of the coin, someone in the Oklahoma Tax Commission took a reporter on a trip through the tax returns of several Democratic legislators. The source told the reporter that I hadn’t filed my tax return. The result? I ended up with a photo of me as the lead story in the Sunday paper for not filing my tax returns. The only problem is that the story was untrue. The newspaper had to print a retraction.
The point here is that tax returns are supposed to be private. There are laws about this. Think about all the hullabaloo we have every four years about presidential candidates “releasing” their tax returns.
This is the reason I haven’t written about President Obama’s behavior. I could not just shake and rattle with indignation about him and not talk about the simple fact that I know he’s not alone. Presidents and other government officials are using their powers to harass their political enemies. More than one of them has done it.
It seems as if each president we elect has less respect for the Constitution and our freedoms than the one before him. Was I surprised that the president who has so little regard for the First Amendment that he signed the HHS Mandate also runs a government that spies on his enemies?
What did surprise me is that some of the reporters the government was spying on seemed surprised that these violations of civil rights were directed at them.
What did they expect?
Were they under some illusion that you can be half pregnant? When you start knocking down the Constitution in the blatant fashion of the HHS Mandate, you’re telling the whole wide world that you don’t much respect that document or the freedoms it protects.
Despite all this, I have to admit that this latest revelation did take me aback. Richard Nixon had his enemies list. But it appears that President Obama has the census. His “enemies” appear to be the American people.
All our phone records and emails are evidently being poured into that big government database in the sky. The law enforcement fishing expedition has broadened to include all of us.
The authority to do this is the Patriot Act, which leads me to our responsibility as citizens. Remember 9/11? Remember President George W Bush and his Patriot Act? Did you know what you were doing when you backed this guy in passing that law?
If you didn’t know before, you do now.
There are people who seem to have unlimited trust in the government to protect them. Not to protect everybody, mind you. Just them. They seem to think that we can enact laws repudiating the rights of all sorts of people, but those laws will never affect them.
The Patriot Act and this spying on all of us puts that fantasy to the lie rather soundly.
Now for the other dirty linen. It turns out that President Obama didn’t do this on his own. He informed every member of Congress, or, as he put it, our “duly elected officials” about what he was doing. In other words, all those guys in Washington, all those guys in Washington, have all of us on the government enemies list.