Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Hopes and Fears for Rule of Law

So we've established that the Obama practices are just standard operating procedures rather than a scandal, and so Trump can act this way in the 2020 campaign? Well, as long as we have the ground rules established.

But no, I'm not seriously saying that. If true, this is an extremely bad way for our government to use the greatly expanded powers of the modern federal executive branch. And it doesn't make it right if both sides manage to use that power to defeat political opponents. A politicized intelligence system quickly becomes a political domestic intelligence system that loses the ability to carry out their formal roles to keep us safe from foreign agencies.

How can we trust these agencies with the power to conduct surveillance inside the United States to find enemy plots when assurances that they'd never target Americans for non-security reasons seems to have been carried out?

Rule of law--which I drone on about quite a bit here--took a bigger hit than I feared in the Obama era. Yet the media didn't explode in outrage. Surely even the left-leaning media would have the decency to wonder what is going on, right?

So is it really as bad as it seems? Or are there reasonable explanations? Are those painting this picture right to be portrayed as tinfoil hat types?

I hope to God the answer is that there are reasonable explanations (but if not, heads need to roll).

And remember, with this type of apparent government collusion in support of Hillary Clinton, with rigged Democratic Party rules and processes to pave her way to the nomination, with a "blue wall" of Electoral College advantage, with all the data analysis they could buy, with a massive spending advantage, with the media a full-time ally, and with Donald Frigging Trump as her actual highly imperfect opponent, Clinton still lost the election.

Yet some people pine for the alternate history of Hillary bringing her purported skill set to the White House? One shudders at the thought. If you wonder why I am skeptical about any conspiracy theory that requires a government secret plot, the 2016 Democratic campaign will stand as Exhibit A for a generation, I think.

And her victory would kept quiet what seems to have happened in making elements of our intelligence agencies an actor in our election.

I want to know what happened. A free America governed by rule of law needs to know what happened. Either prove bad things happened and punish the bad actors; or prove that our intelligence agencies acted properly, so they don't have their reputations unfairly tarnished.

I fear the former happened. I hope the latter happened.

UPDATE: More. And he's hardly a Trump fanboy.

You don't have to like Trump to worry that rule of law was undermined by the Obama administration. Indeed, you might want to worry more that Obama normalized practices that Trump could now use with the precedent.

But I just don't feel competent to judge this despite it feeling really bad. Partisans insist it is either absolutely extremely bad or completely normal. I want to know which it is.