WASHINGTON – With the latest course correction on Obamacare, the theme here should not be “change you can believe in.” It should be: “you don’t have to get out of the trouble you don’t get into.” The regime just announced it would grant “hardship” exemptions from penalties for not complying with the individual mandate to buy health insurance by Jan. 1. This is offered as a kindness, a royal condescension to those whose health insurance was abruptly canceled after President Obama repeatedly promised that would never happen.
There are many well-intended efforts by citizens and business organizations to stem this government’s slide more deeply into the willfulness, sloppiness and statism it inherited from the Bush-Cheney administration.
“Statism” is my word for the official notion that we should work for the interests of the collective state, the urges of government and its powerful friends. This infatuation with statism coincides with the slow decline of popular interest in constitutional rights, and the replacement of national political parties by blocks of union and corporate money and media alliances on the left and right.
Mickey H. Osterreicher, a Buffalo freedom of the press attorney, took part in a citizen push-back in a meeting at the White House last week. As special counsel to the National Press Photographers Association, Osterreicher helped organize a meeting with Obama press secretary Jay Carney.
More than two-dozen media organizations, including the Associated Press and the New York Times, asked for the conference to protest Obama’s policy of denying news photographers access to him while he is doing the public’s business. Instead of routine media access to meetings of national and international importance, this president has grown fond of declaring these occasions as “private.” His government spoon-feeds posed, selected pictures and video taken by government photographers and often cleared by the president himself. This is using government property and personnel to conduct image crafting; in short: propaganda that contributes to a cult of the personality.
After the meeting, Osterreicher said in part he appreciated Carney’s saying things could have been handled better. On Tuesday, Obama held a staged meeting with Internet moguls, leaders from Apple, Yahoo and other groups. They wanted to talk about curbing the notorious data mining the black box National Security Agency has been doing under secret orders dating from Bush-Cheney and now protected by Obama. The president showcased instead the “progress” he is making on fixing Internet access to Obamacare.
The next night, a select committee Obama created issued a 308-page report on the dangers of the NSA’s illegal snooping on Americans and innocent people around the world. “The current storage by the government of bulk metadata creates potential risks to public trust, personal privacy and civil liberty,” the report said.
Obama is saying he will take a hard look at curbing NSA excesses. A federal judge’s new ruling that the NSA sweeps are unconstitutional is being strongly denounced by Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
Senate Democrats yield to no one in their ardor to “bring to justice” to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, hiding in Russia, and a free press in Europe and America are the only reasons these NSA outrages are known.
What does the offhand praise that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s strong man, gave the NSA during his annual press conference say to small-d democrats at year’s end? It ought to be a warning that big secret government – statism – is not always a friend of freedom.
Oh, after Obama’s production with the IT executives, Verizon said it would publicly announce on its own all government requests for customer data.