The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Our Increasingly Prominent National Scapegoat: YOU


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Our Increasingly Prominent National Scapegoat: YOU

Last Thursday, David French kindly praised this newsletter in the Corner, in a post about modern parenting and the ‘effort shock’ some people experience once they leave the protected enclaves of high school and college and enter the real world. (He added that he wants to see the culture-based material up top, so we may experiment in that direction.)

One of the commenters on that post responded:

You know what would be awesome? If well-intentioned people stopped trying to fix the world. Seriously. All of you. Just go get a good job, love your kids, home-school them, and stop worrying about how terrible the schools are, what bad parents your neighbors are, how much obesity there is, what drugs people are taking and what light bulbs they are using.

Another commenter responded, “refreshing.” And indeed, that notion sounds really appealing at times. But a lot of powerful forces prevent most of us from doing that…

…I remember a comment from Mark Steyn a few NR cruises ago, and I’m going to paraphrase it now: “Americans are first citizens of a global superpower with no interest in conquest. We don’t want other territory, we don’t seek to subjugate other nations, we’re not trying to wipe out any culture we deem inferior. And yet through the rhetoric and of the environmental movement, you, driving your SUV and drinking your Big Gulp and eating your Big Mac, are accused of literally destroying the planet! Not even history’s most brutal dictators faced an accusation on that scale!”

Our political culture and our popular culture are the one-two punch contending that you, ordinary American, going to work or looking for work or looking for better work and just taking care of your families, have somehow become the root of the biggest problems facing the country. It’s your fault.

Don’t scoff; we see this in the way the state chooses to enforce its laws.  We are a nation of laws… lots and lots of them. But we don’t really enforce all of them. Sometimes, as with speeding, the law chooses to arrest and prosecute the worst offenders – if you go 59 in a 55 zone, they’ll usually let it pass, but if you’re going more than ten miles over the limit, you’re taking a gamble.

Right now, one of our biggest debates at the moment is whether entering the country illegally should carry any significant legal consequence. There is an enormous, loud, consistent push for a giant, official “eh, never-mind that entering the country illegally thing,” after decades of spotty enforcement, where everybody in local, state, and federal government knew where to find illegal immigrants: every morning, there were a bunch of guys outside the Home Depot willing to work hard for a little cash paid under the table.

Certain laws just aren’t that important, apparently. As of January 2012, 36 of President Obama’s executive office staff owe the country $833,970 in back taxes.

D.C. attorney general Irvin Nathan cited “prosecutorial discretion” in his decision to decline to bring criminal charges against Meet the Press host David Gregory for his display of a 30-round magazine on air as he discussed the role of high-capacity magazines in the Newtown shooting. “According to D.C. law, it is illegal to possess a large capacity magazine — defined as holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition — even if it is empty. The misdemeanor is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to one year in in prison.” Of course, other people, not so famous and influential, have been prosecuted and convicted for breaking the same law.

Remember Hadiya Pendleton, the girl who sang at Obama’s inauguration and who was fatally shot in Chicago? Her alleged slayer had multiple arrests, and yet he kept being released back out onto the street.

The reputed gang member accused of gunning down 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton last month was on the street even though he had been arrested three times in connection with break-ins and trespassing while on probation for a weapons conviction in recent months, the Tribune has learned.

In two of those arrests, including one just 2 1/2 months ago, Cook County probation officials failed to notify prosecutors or the judge that Michael Ward had been arrested on the new misdemeanor charges and allegedly violated his probation.

… Police also arrested Ward numerous times as a juvenile on charges ranging from robbery to battery to marijuana possession, court records show. At least two of those arrests resulted in convictions, and Ward spent time in 2011 on juvenile probation.

Apparently keeping him off the streets just wasn’t enough of a priority for the government.

Meanwhile, Michael Arrington tells us about his recent experience with the Transportation Security Administration seizing his boat… after he pointed out an error in their paperwork:

The primary form, prepared by the government, had an error. The price was copied from the invoice, but DHS changed the currency from Canadian to U.S. dollars.

It has language at the bottom with serious sounding statements that the information is true and correct, and a signature block.

I pointed out the error and suggested that we simply change the currency from US $ to CAD $ so that is was correct. Or instead, amend the amount so that it was correct in U.S. dollars.

I thought this was important because I was signing it and swearing that the information, and specifically the price, was correct.

The DHS agent didn’t care about the error and told me to sign the form anyway. “It’s just paperwork, it doesn’t matter,” she said. I declined.

She called another agent and said simply “He won’t sign the form.” I asked to speak to that agent to give them a more complete picture of the situation. She wouldn’t allow that.

Then she seized the boat. As in, demanded that we get off the boat, demanded the keys and took physical control of it.

What struck me the most about the situation is how excited she got about seizing the boat. Like she was just itching for something like this to happen. This was a very happy day for her.

The people of this country increasingly feel that the government and its laws are a rigged game, only enforced when convenient to those running the show. David Gregory, White House staffers, illegal immigrants  - for some reason, their lawbreaking isn’t worth the attention  or time of the government. Not even Michael Ward warranted more than a cursory punishment for crime after crime. But if we break any one of the ever-expanding encyclopedia of laws issued by Washington or our state capitals, we’re likely to face expensive and consequential punishments.

Tags: Culture , David Gregory , Laws , Mark Steyn


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