Obviously It’s Abuse of Power – But Why Does It Happen?

“The Freedom of Information Act is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our government honest and transparent, and of holding it accountable. And I expect members of my administration not simply to live up to the letter but also the spirit of this law.  I will also hold myself Obamas transparency pledge - now we see right through itas President to a new standard of openness….

Let me say it as simply as I can:  Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 21, 2009

(photo credit)

I find it surprising that a transcript of the above remarks is still posted at WhiteHouse.gov, but it is.  If you prefer to consume your politics visually, here is President Obama delivering that “Transparency Pledge” on his first full day in office over four years ago:

Against that backdrop, I will now list just ten of the most egregious abuses of power by Obama’s Executive Branch, which have all occurred since he made that pledge:

  1. Obama’s unconstitutional “recess appointments” on January 4th, 2012 of three new NLRB members and Richard Cordray to run the new CFPB.
  2. IRS systematic targeting of conservative groups to prolong or deny their applications for 501(c)(3) and (4) tax exempt status, and subsequent cover-up.
  3. EPA systematic targeting of conservative groups for harsher treatment and payment of larger fees than liberal groups.
  4. State Dept. & White House deliberate misdirection of blame for Benghazi terrorist attack, and subsequent cover-up.
  5. DOJ secretly subpoenas phone records of Associated Press reporters without proper notification to the news agency.
  6. EPA declaration on April 17th, 2009 that CO2 (a.k.a. human breath) is a dangerous pollutant, subject to broad regulation.
  7. Obama Administration implementing the Dream Act by fiat, bypassing Congress’ previous defeat of the bill.
  8. DOJ dismissal of an open-and-shut case of voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia in Nov 2008.
  9. HHS Kathleen Sebelius illegally campaigning for Obama, then retroactively re-categorizing the nature of the trip to cover up the violation.
  10. EPA Chief Lisa Jackson emailing under a fictitious name, “Richard Windsor,” to avoid FOIA-accessible documentation of official government communications.

(Note:  Yes I know that previous administrations, led by presidents of both Scrutinizing government in the here and nowparties, have abused government power.  But we exist today in the here and now.  So I have compiled this list about our current crisis with this administration, run by this president who made that “Transparency Pledge” and then obviously ignored it as soon as the words left his mouth.)

(photo credit)


Why, despite the big promises, does this $#!+ happen?

Should we really be surprised?


To understand why, ignore the trees…let’s consider the forest.

Here is a fable whose origins date back to the 13th century in Persia, and possibly even further back to the 3rd century in India.

There are many versions, some longer, some shorter.  I think it explains perfectly why Big Government statists abuse power.

The Scorpion and the Frog

One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a hopeful journey through the forests and hills until he reached a river.

The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion couldn’t see any way across. So he checked upriver and then checked downriver, beginning to think that he might have to turn back.

Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the bushes. He decided to ask the frog for help.

“Hello Mr. Frog!” said the scorpion. “Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?”

“Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know if I try to help you, you won’t try to kill me?” asked the frog hesitantly.

“Because,” the scorpion replied, “If I kill you, then I would die too, for you know I cannot swim!”

This seemed to make sense.  But the frog asked, “What about when I start to swim? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!”

“True,” agreed the scorpion, “But then I wouldn’t get to the other side of the river!”

“Alright then…how do I know you won’t just wait until we get to the other side and THEN kill me?” asked the frog.

“Ahh…,” crooned the scorpion, “Because you see, once you’ve taken me to the other side, I will be so grateful for your help, it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!”

So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river.  As the frog swam, the rushing water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown.

The Frog and the Scorpion - a metaphor for Big Government statistsHalfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove its terrible stinger from his green skin. A deadening numbness crept into the frog’s limbs.

(graphic credit)

Why on earth did you do that?” croaked the frog weakly, “Now we shall both die!”

The scorpion shrugged.  “I could not help myself.  It is my nature.  It’s what I do.”


The real-life moral to the story

Big Government statists, of any political party, would have us believe that we simply need to anoint the right elite leaders to run the country, and then just let them do whatever they think is best for us.  Statists focus on the never-ending search for these magical leaders.

Here’s the problem with the statists’ worldview:

If left unchecked by well-informed, attentive voters and a vigorous, objective press, Big Government will always overstep its Constitutional bounds and abuse its power.  It happens because Big Government is made up of scads of people, and people are corruptible – especially when they assimilate into powerful bureaucratic institutions that essentially exist underground, hidden from the antiseptic effects of the light of day.

They cannot help themselves.  It is their nature.  It’s what they do.

Invisible and unaccountable layers of government bureaucracy (graphic credit)

Related articles:

Peggy Noonan:  This Is No Ordinary Scandal

Mario Loyola: What The Scandals Reveal

Charles Krauthammer: This Is Going To Go On And It Could Be Fatal

George Will: Obama Scandals Shatter Americans’ Rose-Colored Glasses

Bruce Thornton: What The Obama Scandals Reveal About Progressive Ideology


About Necessary and Proper

Jeff believes in the Individual's ability to excel when liberty and freedom of choice are protected. Also believes in the Community's ability to take care of the vast majority of its own issues and needs when the federal government leaves the Community's resources and sphere of control alone. State and local choice produce better results than centralized federal control. https://necessaryandpropergovt.wordpress.com/
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16 Responses to Obviously It’s Abuse of Power – But Why Does It Happen?

  1. dottieoregon says:

    If you think this is corrupt, wait and see what they do with Obamacare!


    • Hi Dottie!

      Yes, I’ve been wondering what will happen with the plans for the IRS to add 15,000 more agents, to “oversee” ObamaCare. That’s like throwing gasoline on a fire. We’ll see what Congress does about the IRS. The scandal is so obviously bad that even most Democrats are admitting it’s true. So where does that leave the IRS? Can the Republicans parlay this issue into a major overhaul of the IRS and the Federal Tax Code itself?

      – Jeff


  2. “They cannot help themselves. It is their nature. It’s what they do.”

    Exactly right!


  3. The Ed says:

    If you want to get rid of the mosquitoes you have to drain the swamp. Nothing will improve until government shrinks. The last president to leave office with a smaller government than what he came to office with was Calvin Coolidge.


  4. stephnelson says:

    Fabulous article, Jeff!

    I agree that other presidents have also abused power, but Obama should be highlighted because he said so strongly that he *wouldn’t* abuse power. I don’t recall anyone saying that with such force before. It’s time leaders are held accountable for what they say. It matters.

    Thanks again!


    • Steph,

      A “vigorous, objective press” is the key, and by and large we haven’t had such a thing in decades. They’re not asleep at the wheel — it’s far worse: they’re in the tank for one side. Remember last fall when Pat Caddell, a Democrat political consultant, spoke out about how concerned he was that the media was not doing its job to hold the Obama Administration accountable? Here’s the video:

      I saw an article on a blog a couple months ago with a catchy phrase that I still remember:
      “With Nixon, the Press investigated ‘All the President’s Men.’
      Now with Obama, the Press ARE ‘All the President’s Men.”

      (BTW, to avoid a generational miscommunication, let me explain that “All the President’s Men” was the title of the 1974 non-fiction book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who broke the Watergate scandal wide open, and the 1976 movie of the same name starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.)

      – Jeff


  5. Jane says:

    Your last couple paragraphs hit the nail on the head. We need to be well- informed, attentive voters who hold the press and our politicians accountable. I really liked all the links you put in there. There’s just no way around the facts, is there. Great article, Jeff!


    • Jane,

      Interesting that you said we need to hold the press accountable. True (though apparently impossible), but it’s even sadder that what I really meant was that the press needs to hold the Administration accountable. The Press suddenly cares about Constitutional rights when their “freedom of the press” is threatened. But other than that, they seem not to care much about the rest of the Constitution, such as the 2nd amendment. They overlook so much, when all they need to do is speak up, hone in on the BS answers to their first question with tougher follow-up questions, and basically stop taking sides in the political arena. America would be far better off if the press would be neutral. But nowadays, it’s all about “advocacy journalism”, where the press is just as likely to be MAKING the news as they are to be simply REPORTING the news.

      – Jeff


  6. Jack Curtis says:

    The Marxists seem to agree with the thesis; they expected the need for dictatorship to eventually ‘fade away’ with the arrival of ‘new Soviet man’ who, having grown up under Communism, would not need the compulsion required by his progenitors if I recall correctly. The new guy never seemed to show up, though.

    It is indeed, ‘what we do.’ And have always done and seem to be doing again.


  7. Pingback: 7/6/2013: Barack Obama’s Legacy: “Mr. Accountable?” Er…Not So Much | Necessary and Proper Gov't

  8. Here is an article I noticed recently by Victor Davis Hanson, one of the best writers on politics and society today. Called Lying in the Age of Obama, it’s about how lying has become the new normal in the public arena.

    – Jeff


  9. tannngl says:

    *Rant on:

    Isn’t it an amazing thing: when you objectively look at what has happened in our country the last 5 years you can see how every single corporate group responsible to the citizens of this once great country have purposely and hugely failed us:
    first congress – even the GOP held House, next the Supreme Court with a supposed conservative chief appointed by W, and finally the press who prides themselves on digging for the stuff that sells, the dirt. No one has held this man and his handlers accountable to We the People.

    *Rant off.


  10. Pingback: 12/28/2013: Ten Things That Made Me Sick in 2013 | Necessary and Proper Gov't

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