July 29, 2008

DoJ Report: Argument from Selective Outrage

Hatched by Dafydd

The scandal siren was in full scream yesterday, as an AP story reported, "DOJ: Former aide broke law in hiring scandal." The New York Times was a bit more subdued and circumspect in the header: "Report Faults Aides in Hiring at Justice Dept;" but the lede graf (that's newspaper newspeak for "the first paragraph in the story") was fully as damning as the AP headline:

Senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broke Civil Service laws by using politics to guide their hiring decisions, picking less-qualified applicants for important nonpolitical positions, slowing the hiring process at critical times and damaging the department’s credibility, an internal report concluded on Monday.

According to the Associated Press, Democrats were outraged. They were in a froth, a frenzy!

Democrats said the report affirms their charges of White House meddling in the hiring and firing of Justice Department employees.

"The cost to our nation of these apparent crimes was severe, as qualified individuals were rejected for key positions in the fight against terrorism and other critical department jobs for no reason other than political whim," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich.

"The report also indicates that Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, and Alberto Gonzales may have lied to the Congress about these matters," Conyers added. "I have directed my staff to closely review this matter and to consider whether a criminal referral for perjury is needed."

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said "it is crystal clear that the law was broken" by the political hiring process.

"But since it is unlikely that Monica Goodling acted on her own," Schumer added, "the question is, how many others were involved."

(Alert aides to Sen. Schumer, D-NY, 95%, tackled and muffled him before he could spit out what he really wanted to demand: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of an organization devoted to the overthrow of the United States government -- such as the Republican Party?")

I come to bury Monica Goodling, not to praise her. I hope I don't disappoint. But if it makes you feel any better, the only fault I find in her is her clumsiness, not her purpose... for she is an honorable woman; so are they all, all honorable men and women.

At least they tried, for God's sake.

I am quite certain that the report is factually correct that Goodling and Kyle Sampson and the other condemned Justice aides used "political considerations" in deciding who to hire or retain for career positions; and I suspect many conservatives will simply stop right there, ever eager to throw them to the wolves (or to "throw the Jew down the well," to dip into fairly current pop culture).

These are the same Republicans who rushed to demand that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales be ousted the moment he was accused of the crime of politics -- and to demand the forced resignation of Michael Brown from FEMA following Hurricane Katrina the moment Democrats targeted him, the sacking of Donald Rumsfeld the instant Democrats accused him of being a serial torturer, the defenestration of Douglas Feith for "lying" about WMD, and even the slander of our own Marines anent the putative (now largely debunked) Haditha "massacre."

Republicans in general (and social conservatives in particular) have an unhealthy obsession with the appearance of impropriety: The moment an accusation is leveled, even by the enemies of everything the GOP stands for, these self-flagellators rush to agree with the accusers so as not to be seen as "part of the problem." These roundheels fall over backwards to confess the unique corruption and perfidy of Republicans... while failing to do the one thing that is most vital in such an ideological war: Defending our own guys from politically motivated and ultimately unfair accusations from the Left.

Democrats routinely engage in the most frustrating of all rhetorical tricks: the Argument from Selective Outrage. In this case, they experienced no discomfort whatsoever at the hysterical politicization of the career employees at the Departments of State, Justice, and Defense, the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, or any other government bureaucracy; Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI, 100%) only shrugged when career employees engaged in rampant insubordination -- completely ignoring legal orders and mandates from both the White House and Congress; these "nonpartisan, nonpolitical" staffers even went so far as to leak highly classified documents to the press, blowing legal intelligence-gathering programs, simply because the career staffers disagreed with the policy.

But those same Democrats explode in indignation when political leaders in the White House attempt to weed out these ultra-political career activists -- using political tests.

The obvious analogy is the Democrat who seethes with rage at the violent tactics used by the late President of Chile Augusto Pinochet against Communist terrorists and revolutionaries -- whom the Democrat dubs "political opponents" -- but merely yawns at the horrific violence committed by those same Stalinist "opponents" to which Pinochet was responding in the first place: He condemns the response but shrugs off the provocation.

Where was the outrage when career staffers at the NSA leaked the al-Qaeda telephone-intercept program to the New York Times, or when some career government official leaked to the Times and the Washington Post details of the SWIFT surveillance program -- which even the elite media admitted was not even of questionable legality, but was clearly completely legal? Where was the Democratic indignation about the relentless stream of leaked CIA attacks on the White House, the president, and the policies of the Republican members of Congress?

Suddenly the Democrats are upset by the introduction of politics to hiterto apolitical bodies. As Pontius Pilate demands in the rock opera Jesus Christ Super Star (Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice), "What is this new respect for Caesar? Till now this has been noticibly lacking!"

It is clear to me, even if has escaped the notice of Republican roundheels, that any "politicization" of the Justice Department by Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, Susan Richmond, Jan Williams, and even Alberto Gonzales himself was in direct response to rampant politicization of the department by lefties in the "permanent government," who passionately supported the Clintonian policy of fighting terrorism with indictments and briefs, not invasions and bombs. And the GOP politicization pales by comparison.

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

Croupier: [Hands Renault a pile of money] Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault: Oh, thank you very much.

There is still plenty of time left for Republicans to turn the 2008 election cycle around, win the presidency, and even to do well (better than expected) in the congressional races. But this will only happen when the GOP starts fighting for what it claims it believes. Politicizing the career staff of federal bureaucracies is bad; but it's not nearly so bad as allowing recklessly blatant insubordination and criminal insurgency in those same departments, by those same career employees -- who thereby subvert the very core of American democracy: governance by the consent of the governed.

That is, voters have the right under our system of government to demand that policy be made by the officials they elect -- not by unaccountable bureaucrats in the "permanent government" who simply say "nyet," and continue marching lockstep towards the status quo ante.

Republicans could have avoided the debacle of 2006 by standing up and fighting for the very principles they were elected to embody: an aggressive, pre-emptive war against those who want to pull down all of Western civilization and institute a Dark-Ages theocracy instead; privatization of Social Security and Medicare; a permanent end to confiscatory taxation; the protection and veneration of core American values; elimination the legalized corruption of pork-barrel spending, earmarks, and hidden spending inserted during reconciliation-committee meetings.

Instead, they surrendered to the Left -- or in the case of corruption, succumbed to the temptation, which is many times worse -- on virtually every issue:

  • They retreated from the real reasons for war against Iraq -- the ongoing threat that Saddam Hussein posed to America and our allies -- and fell into the behavior pattern of apologizing for each and every minor misjudgment... especially those contained within a larger accurate and courageous judgment, which they consequently refused to defend as well.

    E.g., they scourged themselves over the unfulfilled expectation that we would find "stockpiles of WMD," and thereby missed defending the correct prediction that we would find rampant WMD programs; they fell on their faces and abased themselves over the abuses at Abu Ghraib -- and thus refused to offer a principled defence of the treatment of the vast majority of captured terrorists and insurgents at all the other military and CIA prisons throughout Iraq; and so forth.

  • Republicans and social conservatives repudiated President Bush's attempt to set up a limited privatization of Social Security, abandoning the president and those fiscal conservatives who sought to finally set up a system that would actually work (as it does in numerous other countries), the moment Democrats began their demagogy of the issue. The about-face was so sudden, it gave me vertigo.
  • During the 2006 elections, they refused to make an issue of the Democrats' desire to kill off the Bush tax cuts, institute same-sex marriage, criminalize "offensive" speech and reinstate the anti-liberty "fairness doctrine," kow-tow to terrorists and their apologists in America (such as CAIR), create "freedom from religion" as a new constitutional right, give Big Labor the power to enforce collectivization on workers willy nilly, whether they want it or not, sue American business to death -- and to do all of the above via judicial fiat, so the people would never even get a chance to vote on it.

    Instead, Republicans devoted all their energies to pummeling Republican Rep. Mark Foley from Florida, accusing him of "child molestation," when he was actually only guilty of boorish behavior and crass stupidity. I'm sure Republicans thought they could innoculate themselves from blowback by being even more self-righteous than the Democrats; but you cannot win that game, and the obsession with self-flagellation doubtless worsened their electoral loss.

  • Finally, rather than cleaning up the endemic corruption of the Democrats, top GOP officials themselves eagerly dove into the swimming pool of offal, lunging for hundred-dollar bills with hands, feet, dentures, and any other grabbing muscle they possessed. Those few who resisted this act of political suicide -- John McCain and Tom Coburn (R-OK, 100%), for example -- were scorned and shunned.

Gen. David Petraeus has decisively proven two major strategic doctrines in Iraq: First, you can't win if you don't fight; and second, more than half the victory is simply refusing to accept defeat. But consistently, over and over, Republicans embrace defeat the moment the Democrats offer it... and they subsequently refuse to fight, rolling over and playing dead instead.

(We see the same pattern today, as Republicans begin virtually every electoral comment with, "Of course we're going to be shellacked in the congressional elections -- hopefully just shy of a veto-proof Democratic majority -- but we might possibly be able to squeak out a razor-thin victory in the presidential election. If we're incredibly lucky.")

Oddly enough, that allows Democrats to win. By default, when they never could win by honest ideological struggle.

To date, I have not seen even one, single Republican, conservative, or loyal foot-soldier for America step forward and say, in response to this DoJ report, something like this:

It's absurd to attack the White House for politicizing hiring practices at the Justice Department; Democrats already thoroughly corrupted and politicized the career staff years and years ago. It's like chastising the NSA as "lawbreakers" for violating the rights of foreign terrorist leaders calling their deep-cover agents in the United States.

Instead, I hear only crickets chirping, as the GOP runs for cover... leaving the field to such unbiased, nonpartisan voices of reason as Chuck Schumer and John Conyers.

How many times do we have to shoot ourselves in the head with a baseball bat before we figure out that self-scourging doesn't shield us from future Democratic political assault?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 29, 2008, at the time of 3:14 PM

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The following hissed in response by: snochasr

Exactly so, and the Democrats have made a deadly game of it. They accuse a Republican- fairly, unfairly, truthfully or not-- and scream until this fellow is thrown under the bus by his fellows. Then they accuse the next Republican in line and around we go again. The only way to stop this serial accusation abuse is to defend each and every one of them, from the beginning, and force the Democrats to do their own dirty work through the courts or whatever.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 29, 2008 7:00 PM

The following hissed in response by: Norman Rogers

Whoa! I understand your outrage, but in this case the DOJ report claims "laws appear to have been violated" (or some such statement).

There are times you have to sit back and take your lumps -- and this (and Stevens) appear to be those times. It doesn't do any good to claim the other guys are worse. Of course they are.

Now, we should focus on DRILLING!

The above hissed in response by: Norman Rogers [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 30, 2008 7:43 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Norman Rogers:

I understand your outrage, but in this case the DOJ report claims "laws appear to have been violated" (or some such statement)...

It doesn't do any good to claim the other guys are worse.

Of course it does -- unless you're one of those who worship the law, any law, the way others worship God.

If you accept (which I do) that the law is merely a tool, then whenever someone says "laws appear to have been violated," your response should be, "what law, how has it been violated, and why?"

Here is an example: Suppose you're a cop, and you stop someone for driving 105 mph on the freeway. But his explanation is that his friend was just shot in a hunting accident, and he's rushing him to the emergency room.

Laws have been violated! So should you (a) write out a citation, explain it to the driver, give him the ticket, and then follow him to ensure that he doesn't exceed the speed limit again? Or (b) ignore the violation and give him a freaking escort to the ER?

This current situation is exactly analogous: Much worse lawbreaking was occurring; it was almost impossible to stop; it was catastrophic to America's ability to defend itself against radical Islamist terrorism; the only hope appeared (to Goodling, Sampson, et al) to be to get rid of people who are so partisan, they would rather see the country be destroyed than allow Republicans to change the Clintonian status quo for dealing with terrorism.

If you say that it's better to follow the letter of the law and allow leftist activists to destroy America, than violate the letter of the law by using any means necessary to get them out of their positions of power... then you are a law-worshipper; and for you, the process has become infinitely more important than the outcome.

The ends do not always justify any means; but some ends justify some means, even those that involve breaking the law. The law is a tool; it's meant to achieve a certain goal; it's not an end unto itself that we must rigidly adhere to, no matter what the actual circumstances.

(You may argue that it was not necessary to base human-resource decisions on politics in order to shut down the political insurrection within the DoJ; but that is a completely different argument than the one you made, requiring a very different syllogism to prove... one you have not undertaken; nor has anyone else, so far as I know: They get to "laws appear to have been violated," and that ends the discussion -- when they're talking about Republicans. When they're talking about the very lawbreakers Goodling was trying to guard against, the response is "that's totally different!")


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 30, 2008 12:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: scrapiron

Does this mean the next communist, aka democrat, president can't replace anyone? We've got to watch the circus and hold their feet to the fire when the new guy takes the white house.

The above hissed in response by: scrapiron [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 30, 2008 8:25 PM

The following hissed in response by: Frank Laughter

Sorry I'm late reading the post. It is outstanding because it's right on the money. What you describe, Dafydd, is the very reason I re-registered as unafilliated. I'll not come back to the GOP until it gets testicles as big as it's enemies.

The above hissed in response by: Frank Laughter [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2008 2:35 PM

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