Pelosi’s New House Un-American Activities Committee

When Nancy Pelosi convenes her new House Un-American Activities Committee to call forth ObamaCare protestors (see her “‘Un-American’ Attacks Can’t Derail Health Care Debate“), I hope she’ll find room on the docket for a few other, arguably more egregiously un-American activities—and bring their perpetrators to account:

In the black-and-white films I loved as a child, the good guy Americans were always contrasted with the foreign, un-American guys—complete with identifying scars—slapping their prisoners to make them talk. So why is the Obama administration fighting in courts in San Francisco, Washington and London “to keep an official veil of secrecy over the treatment of a former prisoner who says he was tortured at Guantanamo Bay,” and why is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatening “to limit U.S. intelligence-sharing with Great Britain if the [British high] court disclosed details of [his] treatment in Guantanamo”? (See details here.) And of course Pelosi herself has successfully obfuscated the record on her knowledge of and complicity in the use of torture during the Bush administration.

Though perhaps short of torture, Pelosi might thank her lucky stars she’s not living in the era of those original Americans who found tar and feathering the appropriate response to government figures they didn’t like—including especially tax collectors trying to carry out unpopular founding-era taxes. Kind of makes shout-downs look civil.

Living High on the Hog
True Americans have always prided themselves on being just plain folks—especially those “serving” in government. Think of the great Capra classics like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But now we have the specter of members of Congress needing private Gulfstream executive jets and full-sized Boeing 737s for trips home for the weekend, or to take their families on junkets across the globe while on “recess”. Isn’t it rather un-American for Pelosi to have such public/private jets on call every weekend; or for her and other public servants to take their spouses and children on tours of the Galapagos Islands or to the Paris Air Show in the Air Force-luxury-version Boeing 737 rigged out with all first-class leather seats and sleep accommodations, with service aboard provided by gloved military personnel?

Bail-Outs and Stimulus Legislation
“The American Way” used to be that those who worked hard, were honest, and served their fellow man did well, and those who didn’t went broke. Now, those who work hard and save lose their shirts in a government-fueled trainwreck and get taxed to bail out those who took on risky ventures and paid themselves fancy bonuses to boot. Meanwhile, government bail-out programs like TARP can’t account for the billions appropriated to them, big banks-formerly-known-as-investment banks are making even greater record profits, and the average Joe playing by the rules is out of luck. Who’s responsible for this un-American state of affairs and how do we get our money back?

Immunity from Legislation

Isn’t the immunity Congress gives themselves from labor, healthcare and other laws (not to mention the aforementioned exemption from TSA checkpoints) decidedly un-American, where all are supposed to be equal before the law? There’s a great new truism making the rounds: The reason members of congress try so hard to get re-elected is that they would hate to have to make a living under the laws they’ve passed. I don’t remember seeing anything about Congress being exempt from the laws it passes in the Constitution or Bill of Rights. And if those aren’t the measure of “American,” I wonder what is?

Ms. Pelosi might thus do better to dial back her Nixonian paranoia: she might otherwise find her continued search for enemies of the republic turning the spotlight uncomfortably inward.

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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