Dad Was Right

When my younger stepson Drake was in high school during the Clinton era, he took a class in graphic art at the California College of the Arts one summer, and one of his assignments was to create a propaganda poster. Drake took the photo of Elian Gonzalez being taken at gunpoint from his Miami relatives to be returned to Castro’s Cuba, with Bill Clinton’s head superimposed on the body of the soldier, and added the text “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.” I’m not sure it’s what his instructor had in mind in giving the assignment, but he accepted it as offered.

Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno, who ordered the armed home invasion, had gotten earlier practice with such methods against the Branch Davidians, in which 76 men, women, and children died horribly. Her Deputy Attorney General, Eric Holder, is of course Obama’s current Attorney General.

Under George W. Bush, the individuals and agencies responsible for securing the homeland not only failed to defend against the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but rather than being held accountable for the failure, were instead rewarded with the enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act granting vast new powers to a vast new bureaucracy, and accelerating the end of the system of checks and balances to grant almost unlimited power to the Executive. Apparently its Clinton-era precedent, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, was deemed insufficiently draconian, despite its own habeas corpus-impinging powers. Instead, this sweeping new legislation was passed before its ink was dry, unread and rubber-stamped by those sworn to uphold the Constitution. Interestingly, today’s pundits railing against Congress’s similarly passing the horrifying Obama Stimulus Package without having had a chance to read it seem not to fault Congress’s preceding abdication of responsibilities.

Now, in a proposal akin to putting Al Capone in charge of the FBI, the very Congress and regulatory agencies culpable for the current economic crisis are to be given not less but greater power — over those very institutions their own actions corrupted. For a more complete and learned exposition on the subject, see Robert Higgs’s “Mommas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Report on the Government’s Financial Reforms,” and don’t say we didn’t warn you when the little-remaining, private financial sector has collapsed completely. (To gain a more full understanding of the causes and players behind the current financial crisis, see our “Anatomy of a Train Wreck: Causes of the Mortgage Meltdown.” And if you need a laugh to relieve the painful truth, see “Saturday Night Live’s” lampoon of the bailout, here.)

My father was a great lover of acronyms, creating them for every occasion. One of his perennial favorites was TLARTA – The Lunatics Are Running the Asylum, and he gave bumper stickers bearing this to everyone who would take one.

Indeed they are, Dad. Indeed they are.

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute. Having received her A.B. in economics from Stanford University, she is Managing Director of Lightning Ventures, L.P., a San Francisco Bay Area investment firm, former Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Salvation Army of both San Francisco and Alameda County, and Vice President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California.
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