You have to read George F. Will’s latest. Excerpts:
In the fall of 1996, at the campaign’s climax, Democrats filed with the Federal Election Commission charges against Salvi’s campaign alleging campaign finance violations. These charges dominated the campaign’s closing days. Salvi spoke by telephone with the head of the FEC’s Enforcement Division, who he remembers saying: “Promise me you will never run for office again, and we’ll drop this case.” He was speaking to Lois Lerner.
After losing to Durbin, Salvi spent four years and $100,000 fighting the FEC, on whose behalf FBI agents visited his elderly mother demanding to know, concerning her $2,000 contribution to her son’s campaign, where she got “that kind of money.” When the second of two federal courts held that the charges against Salvi were spurious, the lawyer arguing for the FEC was Lois Lerner.
More recently, she has been head of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, which has used its powers of delay, harassment and extortion to suppress political participation. For example, it has told an Iowa right-to-life group that it would get tax-exempt status if it would promise not to picket Planned Parenthood clinics.
Last week, in a televised House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Salvi’s former law partner, told the riveting story of the partisan enforcement of campaign laws to suppress political competition by distracting Salvi and entangling him in bureaucratic snares. The next day, the number of inches of newsprint in The Post and the New York Times devoted to Roskam’s revelation was the number of minutes that had been devoted to it on the three broadcast networks’ evening news programs the night before: Zero.
The case for the National Security Agency’s gathering of metadata is: America is threatened not by a nation but by a network, dispersed and largely invisible until made visible by connecting dots. The network cannot help but leave, as we all do daily, a digital trail of cellphone, credit card and Internet uses. The dots are in such data; algorithms connect them. The technological gathering of 300 billion bits of data is less menacing than the gathering of 300 by bureaucrats. Mass gatherings by the executive branch twice receive judicial scrutiny, once concerning phone and Internet usages, another concerning the content of messages.
The case against the NSA is: Lois Lerner and others of her ilk.
This, I think, is what Alan Jacobs is getting at in his post explaining why he, a traditionalist conservative, has a lot in common with the leftist Freddie de Boer on issues of state power and information-gathering. Alan:
We suspect the vast and ever-increasing powers of the militaristic surveillance state for very similar reasons: we see its infinite voraciousness, its lust either to consume or erase differences, and its willingness to persecute and prosecute anyone who won’t get on board.
This convergence is not new: consider, for instance, the astonishing overlap between the views expressed by the socialist George Orwell in 1984 and those expressed by the Christian conservative C. S. Lewis in That Hideous Strength, right down to the brilliant parodies in both of foully obfuscatory bureaucratic language. Both writers see the rhetorical subtlety by which the pink police state entrenches itself before ultimately revealing its true character.