"How do men act on a sinking ship? Do they hold each other? Do they pass around the whisky? Do they cry?" -- Sebastian Junger in The Perfect Storm
The Perfect Storm of Liberalism has arrived.
A professional collapse inside the several departments and agencies of the United States government created by a decades-long erosion of standards. An erosion fed by all manner of deadly liberal obsessions from racial quotas to political correctness to an addiction to lawsuits, the tolerance for a culture of out of control spending, wildly improper personal behavior, and more.
This deadly combination is now surfacing repeatedly in scandals as seemingly different as those engulfing the Secret Service, the GSA, the U.S. military, the Department of Justice, and every other tentacle of the federal government imaginable.
Let's look at it liberal issue by liberal issue and examine how this perfect storm of liberalism is swamping the affected government department or agency in question.
Let's start with:
• Racial quotas and the Secret Service: An American Spectator source has fingered the hot-button issue of racial quotas as a serious problem for the Secret Service, an allegation now surfacing (hesitantly to be sure) in no less than the liberal Washington Post.
Did the Secret Service deliberately reduce its hiring standards to insure that minorities were hired and promoted in the name of racial quotas?
Ironically setting up the possibility that the personal security of America's first black president -- himself a decided liberal -- could have been breached with disastrous consequences?
Did this alleged lowering of the agency's standards wind up slowly infecting the agency across-the-board? Thus setting the stage for the explosive sex scandal that has led to the investigation of 12 Secret Service agents.
Was the Cartagena scandal actually "fixed" -- "settled" -- until the Miami SAC got wind of what was happening on her turf -- when she blew the scandal wide open?
This is exactly the allegation from a source with considerable Washington and Secret Service connections. Precisely because of these close connections, the source requested anonymity. But this source tells a story that paints a grim portrait of an agency led by a "weak leader" -- Director Mark Sullivan -- in thrall with the liberal idea of racial quotas. A political correctness that led to the appointment of an African-American woman -- Paula Reid -- as the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the 150 member Miami Field Office. The Miami office, responsible for Secret Service agents operating in South America -- as they were for President Obama's now infamous trip to Cartagena, Colombia -- is said to rival only New York and Los Angeles for prestige.
What is really going on here? Was the Cartagena story "fixed" -- until Agent Reid blew the whistle? If so, who did the fixing? The White House? The State Department? Who?
Let me stipulate. As has been reported, Agent Reid blew the whistle on the Cartagena shenanigans the moment she heard about them. To her credit. Say again, to her credit.
The question here is not that she "blew the whistle," as they say in government vernacular. The real question, unasked much less unanswered, is why these particular agents were sent to Colombia in the first place. Did she not, as the Miami boss, understand these agents well enough to know that the possibility of these particular selections had the distinct possibility of going wildly off track in a country where prostitution was legal? Did she not understand these choices well enough to know that trouble… big trouble… was highly probable? Therefore unnecessarily embarrassing President Obama on the world stage while he was in a foreign country. And if she didn't make the selections, who did? With exact same questions applying to whoever selected these agents.
Or was there another, infinitely more serious problem that resulted in these agents being in the Secret Service in the first place?
Here are two much earlier instances of trouble on high profile trips that were handled quite differently.
First. When Vice President George H.W. Bush traveled to the Philippines for the inauguration of Ferdinand Marcos in 1981 -- Bush's first official trip as vice president -- several members of the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) were along to support the communications end of the trip. They were, as all White House staffers know, members of the Army Signal Corps. What happened? A handful vanished prior to the then-Vice President's arrival. MIA. Found eventually to have been drunk, in the company of prostitutes, their U.S. government IDs lost. What happened? Out. On the spot. returned to Washington and never, professionally speaking, heard from again.
Second. On another vice presidential trip in the Reagan-Bush era, this one to Moscow at the height of the Cold War, a naval aide managed to get himself in a compromising position with a Russian woman. This was incredibly taboo. The Philippines, at least, was an ally. As tensions were incredibly high with the Soviet Union, this was a country where the stakes were infinitely higher. The Vice President was already on the ground. What to do? Check first that the codes in the naval officer's possession were secure (they were)… then he too was gone. Outta there on the spot. Again, professional toast.
In other words, to clean up the vernacular, bad things happen. Humans are imperfect no matter the generation or the qualification.
Here's the problem., however. When you have, as our source says, "entire complements of personnel working in high positions who should never have been hired in the first place as they were not qualified, and add to that the viperous mix of the generational issues and you have a disaster waiting in the wings."
This source cites the presence of Reid as one of the original plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit filed in 2000 by Agent Reginald Moore, an African American. The suit, charging the Secret Service with racial discrimination and discussed here, is still ongoing over a decade later, although Reid finally withdrew as a plaintiff. While the lawsuit surfaced disagreement even among black agents (the story cited above in the Chicago Tribune reports a black agent in charge of the Oklahoma Field Office as saying that "the agency portrayed in the lawsuit does not resemble the place he's worked for 19 years"), there is a decided belief, according to the Spectator source, that the net effect of the suit was that "the bar was lowered significantly" across the board when it came to standards of admission. Americans are by now well familiar in the Age of Political Correctness with lawsuits brought that wind up benefitting the person or persons suing. There may or may not be direct financial gain in terms of an award. But there can be professional gain, promotions achieved that might not otherwise be achieved simply because the government agency (or private company) feels it is easiest to "settle" and end the matter.
In fact, earlier in this campaign season, when the issue of alleged sexual harassment against then-GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain was raised, an issue that came about because of a suit filed against him when he ran the National Restaurant Association, there were numerous media reports (like this one) saying some version of this:
"Lawsuits are so expensive to defend that it makes good business sense to settle even the most frivolous cases. And businesses do."
The U.S. government, alas, has a bottomless pit of cash (or thinks it does). So it can fight on forever if it chooses. Still and all, as those who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment well know, they received their fifteen minutes of fame and more so, doubtless burnishing their names in some quarters.
In government circles it is entirely conceivable that suits are brought to insist on professional advancement that might otherwise might not be achieved. Even if the suit drags on forever, if there is one thing that members of the governing class are decidedly sensitive to in any administration it is the impression that they are somehow involved in racial or gender discrimination. They may not give a whit about the money… the money, after all, isn't theirs. But be pegged as racists or sexists? When their administration has to get votes from minorities and women? Not good. So, they can bend.
And in this case, the case of the Secret Service, the question is: Did the Secret Service, as our source suggests, bend because of racial considerations? In fact bend so far that standards not simply for minorities or women but for everybody were lowered. Resulting in a crew of Secret Service agents screwing up (so to speak) in Colombia when in fact the closest they should have ever been to a Secret Service agent is watching Clint Eastwood play one in the movies.
Lending credence to this scenario, says our source, is that Director Sullivan, described as a "weak" leader surrounding himself with equally weak subordinates, "was overheard at a cocktail party at the end of last year bragging about [how] the academy class of new agents in progress at the time was overwhelmingly filled with minorities. An event he seemed to be very pleased about as opposed to having been heard to say that this class of new agents is the most qualified, best scored group we have had in a generation!"
Indeed, our source says Miami SAC Reid has a reputation as a "true radical black woman." According to one interesting nugget in the Washington Post, Reid came to the Secret Service through "an NAACP job fair that sought to encourage minority applicants for law enforcement jobs." The NAACP, once a beacon of equal opportunity, has now earned a considerable reputation in the eyes of some as nothing more than a home for far left-wing politics and its camp followers. Was Agent Reid one of those followers? The Post does not say.
Notably, in a classic of liberal journalism, the Washington Post story hails Reid as a "rising supervisor"… while burying crucial information about her performance well into the story. Wrote the Post sympathetically of Reid's rise to be the head of the Miami Field Office:
Her move prompted grumbling among some longer-serving white supervisors that she was unqualified, according to people with knowledge of the situation, including a former agent who left recently. A lot of the "good old boys" were not happy, said the former agent, who, because of the sensitive nature of personnel decisions, asked not to be identified.
The result of the push for meeting racial quotas in the Secret Service at the expense of lowering standards, says our source, is that "…the bar was lowered significantly. Now that affects ALL hires of the Service regardless of race." In consequence, when combined with "the societal attitudes of the latest generations and their general lack of education, commitment and reality," the inevitable outcome is a "dumbed down" Secret Service. Where conduct like that in Cartagena "is only the tip of the iceberg."
Agents at the end of their careers, the Spectator was told, relate "horror stories while on presidential protective detail. They would assign agents posts to stand, observing certain perimeters within which was the POTUS (President of the United States). Supervisors would pass to check on the postings and there were no agents! 'Where were you?' they were asked." The response: "Oh, I had to go to the bathroom." There is, says this source, a "basic lack of understanding of the importance of the job and commitment to it (that) goes across all lines."
Agent David Chaney, a senior supervisor who is white, was cited as an example of the dumbed down standards not simply because the standards for hiring have dropped over time but also the standards "for retention have been lowered to the point that there is no accountability." It was Chaney, now abruptly retired after his involvement in the Cartagena scandal, who posted on Facebook (in 2009) a photo of himself guarding protectee Sarah Palin in 2008. With the comment that "I was really checking her out, if you know what I mean." Whether Chaney was ever reprimanded for this 2009 posting at the time is unclear.
All of this has brought fresh attention to a 2002 investigation of the Secret Service by U.S. News and World Report. The magazine provided a detailed examination that further illustrates the allegations and concerns of our own source with regard to an agency lost in a swamp of liberal political correctness. The story is replete with tales of violations of one-time Service standards. Such as:
-- A female agent detailed to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton violating Service standards by drinking while carrying her gun, then losing her purse to a thief -- and the .357 Sig Sauer service weapon inside. It was the second time the agent had lost her gun -- yet she had been promoted between the first and second incidents.
-- An alleged affair between an agent guarding the Clinton White House with President Clinton's cousin Catherine Cornelius.
-- Alleged affairs with female White House staffers involving not one but two successive Secret Service Directors.
-- An agent guarding then-former President Reagan having an affair with an underage teen-age girl.
-- A fight in a D.C. bar that resulted in a shooting and the dismissal of the agent involved.
There's much more. But the overall portrait from the Spectator's source and elsewhere is of an agency in crisis. Or, as was said in the U.S. News story, an agency that is "like a giant ship teetering on toothpicks, waiting to collapse." The allegation is now raised that racial quotas is one of those toothpicks. And the ultimate irony, as mentioned, is that this addiction to the liberal obsession with racial quotas may be putting the personal safety of the nation's first black president in jeopardy.
Next on this dismal list?
• Political Correctness and Ft. Hood: Remember this one? In November of 2009, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, suddenly pulled out a gun and started firing? Shouting "Allahu Akbar!" -- God is Great-- Hasan killed thirteen and wounded 29 other servicemen and women. Right in the heart of the U.S. Army's Fort Hood.
What was the bottom line of this horror? It turned out that Major Hasan, now scheduled for trial this summer, was an American Muslim of Palestinian descent who had already been investigated prior to the shooting by the FBI. Why? It had discovered e-mail correspondence between Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemini cleric who was well on the list of al Qaeda terrorists. After the shooting al-Awlaki issued a statement praising Hasan as a "hero" and saying that "fighting against the U.S. army is an Islamic duty." Al-Awlaki was killed by a US drone in 2011.
The Wall Street Journal reported that not only were U.S. intelligence agencies like the FBI aware of Hasan's activities and connections, his "former colleagues have said he performed substandard work and occasionally unnerved them by expressing fervent Islamic views and deep opposition to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." No wonder, since he passed out business cards calling himself a "Soldier of Allah."
So why was not Hasan flagged and removed from duty, pronto? How did he get to be a major in the United States Army in the first place? How did he stay a major when U.S. intelligence knew he was communicating with an al Qaeda leader?
Then-Army Chief of Staff General George Casey provided a disturbing glimpse into just how far the liberal mindset of "diversity" has penetrated the military. ("Diversity" being increasingly seen as a code word for judging others by the politically correct skin color or religion: in the latter case, Muslim.) Said the General in a CNN interview:
"As great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well," the Army Chief of Staff also said Sunday. Casey was quick to add that he does not think there is currently discrimination against the roughly 3,000 Muslims who serve in the Army as active duty soldiers or in the reserves."
Retired General Jack Keane had another view, which he gave to the U.S. Senate in testifying about the incident, which he said showed "just how unacceptable the military's failure to deal properly with Major Hasan's radicalization to violent Islamist extremism was." Keane added the obvious: "….that Hasan's open displays of violent Islamist extremism was [sic] a violation of military rules calling for good order and discipline."
All of this, of course, was after the fact. So too was Attorney General Eric Holder's hotly controversial decision not to try Hasan as a terrorist but rather for the simple act of murder.
But the hard fact was obvious.
Yet another liberal standard -- political correctness -- had been brought to bear in the U.S. Army in order to find excuses not to deal with Major Hasan. And as a result, 13 servicemen and women are dead.
• Lawsuits and the federal government. What would liberals do without their obsession with trial lawyers? Or Big Government?
The apparent answer? Starve to death.
If you would really like a glimpse of liberal values at work in the government, take a look at this site, a small (?!!) compilation of lawsuits that have been filed against the federal government. Who, specifically, is being sued?
Here's a partial…a tiny… list:
The Air Force
The Department of Commerce
The Department of Homeland Security
The Social Security Administration
The Bureau of the Census
The Security and Exchange Commission
The Federal Aviation Administration
The U.S. Marshal Service
The Environmental Protection Administration
The Bureau of Engraving
The Department of Health and Human Services
This being Washington, these things can not only cost you -- the taxpayer -- money in terms of the actual legal costs and monetary awards if applicable. No, there's always the required congressional investigation to go along with it. And lest you think this is just a partisan Republican versus Democrat thing -- think again.
This clip revolves around a complaint of being racially victimized, with a black woman leading the complaint against none other than Bill Clinton's EPA administrator Carol Browner. Browner, of course, is a longtime liberal ally of then-Vice President Al Gore and returned to government in the Obama White House as the head of the Office of Energy and Climate Change. It was announced in January of this year that Browner was leaving government after her second stint as a senior presidential adviser.
A racist with a penchant for discriminating against minorities and women? Carol Browner? Well, yes went the cry from various black and female EPA employees. So there was a law suit and a decision and a bill to the taxpayers in the form of an award for the alleged "victim'" (depending on the source) either $600,000 or $300,000.
This kind of legal bickering generated by liberal silliness goes on all day every day all across the government. Fueled by your tax dollars. Here's another example of the bickering that is always on-going, this time from a lefty site called "Occupy EPA." The target here? That's right, Obama's EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, a black woman, is in the sights of an angry lefty at EPA.
And you wonder why so many Americans instinctively rebel at the size of the federal government?
We haven't even gotten to:
Wasting Tax Dollars and the GSA: Surely you haven't missed the saga of the GSA's Jeffrey Neeley and his zany crew at the General Services Administration? The GSA usually dubbed as the government's landlord. This guy (pictured here in his now immortal bathtub scene in Las Vegas) has, with daunting effectiveness, become the very epitome of Big Government's ingrained DNA for wasting your hard-earned tax dollars by the champagne and caviar buckets full.
Then there are the execs at Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac demanding bonuses for failure. The soldiers urinating on dead enemies for the cameras or posing with the body parts of a suicide bomber on camera. Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department turns a blind eye to the New Black Panthers caught on camera menacingly standing outside a Philadelphia polling place -- with nightsticks. Not to mention going blind again when the Panthers were recently well out in public offering a million dollar bounty for George Zimmerman, the accused killer in the Trayvon Martin case.
In a few weeks, The Death of Liberalism by The American Spectator's Founder and Editor-in-Chief R. Emmett Tyrrell will hit the bookshelves. Tyrrell examines exactly the wild, wacky, and truly disturbing obsessions of the modern left that have reduced the liberalism of FDR, Truman, and JFK to a perpetually unfunny 20 percent in one poll after another. Written before this latest rash of scandals, Tyrrell's book is nonetheless prescient about what's happening here -- and why this kind of unfunny business is killing liberalism when it isn't killing real people like those at Fort Hood..
The other day, The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan wrote a perceptive column about all of this, calling it "America's Crisis of Character." She closes by saying:
In isolation, these stories may sound like the usual sins and scandals, but in the aggregate they seem like something more disturbing, more laden with implication, don't they?… Something seems to be going terribly wrong.
That "something" that is going wrong we would suggest is the rewriting of high standards to remake them as liberal obsessions disguised as "standards." Which is to say, all too frequently, no standards.
All of this becomes a real opportunity for -- Mitt Romney.
The economy is at the head of the list of the issues in this campaign. But Romney has a chance here to finally connect the dots that have been discussed throughout the primaries by his opponents.
Presidents are not accountants. They are leaders. American leaders who must understand the importance of the distinctively American character and the need for that American character to shine through every open portal of the United States government.
Without high standards, without character, without a colorblind approach that measures every government agency from the more glamorous precincts of the United States Secret Service to the mundane General Services Administration to the far afield operations of the U.S. military or the critical functions of the Department of Justice -- the future holds nothing but one government scandal after another.
Is it time for the next president to throw out a huge chunk of these parasitic bureaucracies wholesale?
Yes. Unequivocally yes. It's not just time -- it's past time.
But whatever remains as the constitutional government of the United States cannot operate if high standards are not returned. If left-wing obsessions are not finally and fully replaced with a devotion to the highest of high standards.
Otherwise, perpetual scandal looms. The ship of state will indeed sink.
And in the case of below-excellent Secret Service agents? As the U.S. Army has already learned the hard way, the Perfect Storm of Liberalism that swept up Fort Hood has every capability of producing:
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