For me, the issue this US election season is the corruption. Sure, I'd like a balanced budget and less debt and repeal of Obamacare, but I'm getting used to being sold out on those issues. So I'm down to the bare minimum requirement for a politician: The corruption nauseates me, and, if it doesn't nauseate the candidates, then that explains a lot about why nothing happens on any of those other matters. It's in the air, it's in my nostrils, and I'm sick of choking on it. We have a "justice" department that prosecutes a senator who made the mistake of crossing the President (Menendez) but declines to do anything about a tax collector who treats American taxpayers differently on the basis of how they vote (Lerner). We have a revenue agency that regards itself as the paramilitary wing of the ruling party. We have replaced equality before the law with a hierarchy of privilege, so that no-name ambassadors can be fired for breaking federal record-keeping requirements by a department whose boss outsources her federal records to her own server and then mass-deletes them with no more thought than when she's parking her van in the handicapped space. We have a federal police agency in which 26 out of its 28 hair analysts gave false testimony favorable to the prosecution. We have a cabinet officer who managed to get more firepower deployed to toss her designated scapegoat videomaker into the county jail than she assigned to the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi. We have a president who rules by decree on everything from immigration to health care - and a legislature of castrati too craven to object.
I would like a candidate who promises to hose out the sewer. Yes, yes, I know it's not as jolly and upbeat a slogan as "Morning in America" or "Hope and Change" or "A Thousand Points of Light", but hosing out the sewer happens to be what's necessary. Beyond the politics, this is a hygiene issue. Northern Europeans come by their Big Government honestly. One may deplore their enthusiasm for high taxes and cradle-to-grave welfare, but it's what they want, and it's delivered reasonably cleanly. In Southern Europe, it's all a bit grubbier, but it's not lethal - as it always potentially is in the only developed nation in which every tinpot bureaucracy can call up its own SWAT team (of which more below).
But instead of Captain Hosepipe it looks as if the people are going to hand the keys to the republic over to the most openly corrupt candidate of the modern era. The New York Times reports today on the Clinton "Foundation"'s industrial-scale cash-for-Cankles operation:
The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton's State Department in return.
"We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds," Mr. Schweizer writes.
His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor's natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department...
"During Hillary's years of public service, the Clintons have conducted or facilitated hundreds of large transactions" with foreign governments and individuals, he writes. "Some of these transactions have put millions in their own pockets."
Enemies of Hillary Clinton waiting to discredit her bid for the White House are likely to seize on news that one of the biggest benefactors to the Clinton Foundation has been trading with Iran and may be in breach of US sanctions imposed on the country.
Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, 54, has courted the Clintons for at least nine years - in the United States, the Alps and Ukraine.
Earlier this year, he was confirmed as the largest individual contributor to the Clinton Foundation...
Well, if you're selflessly devoting your life to "public service", it always helps to have a Ukrainian oligarch to lighten the financial sacrifice. Speaking of Iran, do you remember Bill Clinton at Davos?
Iran today is, in a sense, the only country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency. It is there that the ideas that I subscribe to are defended by a majority… the only one with elections - including the United States, including Israel, including you name it - where the liberals or the progressive have won two-thirds to 70 percent of the vote in six elections: two for President; two for the parliament, the Majlis; two for the mayoralities.
In every single election, the guys I identify with got two-thirds to 70% of the vote. There is no other country in the world I can say that about, certainly not my own.
Did he mean it? Was he on crack? Or did the Ukrainian oligarch offer him a signing bonus? And when he says "the guys I identify with" does he mean the Iranian "liberal progressives" who hang sodomites from lamp-posts are merely the extra-strength version of his Defense of Marriage Act?
The Clintons have gotten mega-rich by pandering (as above) to some of the most disgusting people on the planet. So what sort of justice department and revenue agency do you think Mrs Clinton will be running?
~The corruption of the republic goes all the way down. David French has a terrific piece on Wisconsin, where the unions used an appalling judge called Barbara Kulka (whose name ought to be better known) to authorize so-called "John Doe investigations" to terrorize citizens who support Scott Walker's reforms. Shame on the wretched policemen who implemented the scheme:
Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin's Act 10 - also called the "Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill," it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions - was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs' frantic barking. The entire house - the windows and walls - was shaking.
She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram...
"I begged and begged, 'Please don't shoot my dogs, please don't shoot my dogs, just don't shoot my dogs...'
Multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower...
"He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me."
They wouldn't let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off...
What's that bit about not speaking to a lawyer mean? Ah, well, that's the beauty of this "John Doe" racket:
As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren't enough, next came ominous warnings.
Don't call your lawyer.
Don't tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.
The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent.
You can't talk about it, but the cops can make sure everyone in the neighborhood sees it - and knows it could happen to them, too, at any time.
In The [Un]documented Mark Steyn I revisit a case I wrote about way back in 1995, when a small-town Vermont lawyer woke up as Cindy Archer did. In this case, it was DEA agents in Ninja get-up storming his modest little Cape and terrorizing his children and the turtles in the bathtub. Two decades ago, I was sufficiently new to American life to find this sort of thing - the 3am knock from a paramilitarized bureaucracy in the full Robocop - mildly unusual. So I called up James Bradley, DEA Agent-in-Charge for Vermont:
So why, I ask, didn't the DEA go round at nine a.m. instead of three in the morning? Make it less of a 'raid', more of an 'appointment'?
'That's not the way we do things,' he says.
In 1995, I was naïve enough to be surprised by that.
Re David French's piece, reader Jim Mauser writes to me:
I believe the victims' biggest mistake was heeding police warnings not to tell any one. I like to think, if it was me, that I would have asked all of the neighbors to film this mess on their cell phones (the cops would have arrested the whole neighborhood?).
I also like to think I would have called 911 and reported a home invasion from some people masquerading as police. But it's hard to know how you would react when facing the barrel of a gun.
That's the point. As Cindy Archer and others understood, when the nightmare suddenly descends, you have to be super-alert not to put a foot wrong, even by an inch or two. She was worried they were going to shoot her barking dogs. Which the police certainly do. But, maybe if your poor dog tries to protect you and you rush to grab his collar, the sudden move will result in them shooting you - and then trotting back to the vehicle to find a taser to plant beside your body.
What I mean is, when Mr Mauser says "it's hard to know how you would react", you have to react as you would if you were raided by the Egyptian police or the Turkmen police, and figure out a way to increase your odds of surviving the encounter. But, on his general point, I'm in agreement: Americans need to recover the habits of liberty, and refuse to accept the "justice" of squalid hacks like "Judge" Kulka. And they need also to understand that there is a direct line between the contempt for law demonstrated by the super-elite in Washington and the terrifying caprices of Wisconsin "justice".
Like I said, I want a candidate who'll restore government integrity and equality before the law. These days I can't sit through that "I'm proud to be an American 'cause at least I know I'm free" song. I'd like fewer people to sing it and more people to live it.