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May 21, 2014

Bumped: The VA Scandal is Primarily the Fault of the Partisan, Bureaucracy-Protecting Press

Check out a Democrat Congressman tearing Shinseki and, indirectly (and a bit directly) Obama, at Hot Air.


Nobody Is Angrier Than I Am

...about what happened in Your Mouth.

-- Barack Obama, as reported by Hollowpoint

...

Yet another new scandal which Obama -- perhaps the most passive and reactive president in history -- did nothing to avert, and now wishes to do nothing to solve it, except to let the bureaucracy work through its routine processes.

He claims to have an extraordinary level of anger about each new scandal, and yet then orders the bureaucracy to engage in ordinary CYA procedures in response to each.

Is not extraordinary interest usually matched by extraordinary actions?

Always he says the same things:

1. He's "mad. Or "angry." Or "madder than hell." Or even "apopleptic." Obama vows he's much, much angrier than you are -- "no one is angrier than I am" -- despite having no appearances of actual anger. Rather like a very controlled, uptight WASP Hulk.

2 He vows to "get to the bottom of this." He says this in a way to suggest that he, personally, will be getting to the bottom of this. Of course he doesn't. Within a week he's playing golf and parcheesi with the White House motor pool.

3. Despite pronouncing this newest scandal extraordinary, he then demands that we... allow the routine, ordinary Bureaucratic Process to fix everything.

"Putting something in the process" is standard Bureaucratic jargon meaning that "nothing is being done and go f*** yourself raw."

At no point does he ever captain some kind of serious investigation. He continues doing what he always does -- playing golf, fundraising, giving partisan speeches about trivial matters.

In fact, after his obligatory hemming about how goshdarn "angry" he is, he and his minions work extraordinarily hard to change the subject and distract the public, which is dumb and easily distracted, and also distract the press, which is even dumber and even more easily distracted, with some Very Important Twitter Meme that the White House Communication shop came up with 30 minutes ago.

Why does he do this?

Because he's permitted to this, by a protective partisan press.

I am not nearly as smart as Ezra Klein, who is apparently blogging about the "Green Lantern" Presidency today, but let me speculate that bureaucracies respond to Heat, which then causes them to rouse themselves out of their usual clock-watching check-cashing torpors so that they are forced to put Routine Bureaucratic Process to the side, rouse themselves into a bout of serious work, and focus on fixing serious deficiency.

Heat -- pressure, criticism, angry phone calls, Press inquiries -- is a vital eternal stimulus to any bureaucracy, as any bureaucracy, left to its own devices, will do what any self-interested guild will do, which is focus entirely on its own interests and focus little or not at all on the public interest.

The priorities of a bureaucracy -- not that bullshit you see in its mission statement, which is for public consumption, bait for the rubes -- are very similar to the biological imperatives of living organism.

In order of priority, the biological imperatives of the Bureaucratic Collective Life Form are as follows:

1. Protect our phony-baloney jobs.

All organisms' highest priority is survival. And fold into this other self-interested survival-like goals: raises, comforts.

There's an important sub-priority here:

1. a. Protect the Phony-Baloney Jobs of Our Fellow Government Workers.

This is crucial. The more the worst government worker can get away with without losing his job, the more the average government worker can get away with without losing his job.

All guilds and unions are devoted to protecting the jobs of their worst performing members.

All bureaucrats have a secret guild interest in permitting the worst, laziest, most useless, most misbehaving government workers to keep their jobs (so long as allowing them to keep their jobs does not threaten other jobs -- that is, so long as the bad bureaucrat is not so notoriously awful that he jeopardizes all other Phony Baloney jobs by remaining on the payroll).

In addition, once someone loses their Phony Baloney job at the government, they may begin ratting on those in the bureaucracy also doing their Phony Baloney jobs very poorly; every fired government worker is thus a potential Snitch Threat to other government workers.

For that reason, bureaucrats will work hard to keep other bureaucrats on the payroll, ensuring their continued loyalty to the Guild of Phony Baloney Jobs.

Government workers prioritize imperative 1 and 1.a. to the highest degree possible while still observing imperative 2...

2. Do as little work as possible.

Note that here I'm not actually attacking the bureaucracy for being lazy-- most organisms are hard-coded to do as little work as possible. They store up energy for the coming time they'll have to face off against a brontosaurus or somethin'. "Doing as little work as possible" can also be called, more charitably, a strong impulse towards efficient allocation of the precious resource of stored energy in the form of fat.

But the point is, left to its own devices, any bureaucracy will, of course, do as little as possible while still achieving its most important priority, Protecting Our Phony Baloney Jobs.

Meanwhile, they also have an imperative to increase the scope and grandeur of the jobs they're doing as poorly as possible:

3. Expand turf, power, and responsibilities.

Note that this conflicts directly with Priority 2, Doing as Little Work as Possible. You would think that someone who wants to Do As Little Work As Possible would shy away from taking on greater power and responsibility. But they don't.

Higher organisms, while lazy, are also keenly egotistical, and farm social status based on how many other organisms they dominate and boss around every day.

If you boss no one around, you're a peon; if you boss a couple of people around, you're a low-level manager; if you boss a bunch of people around, you're a mid-level manager; and if you boss a real mess of people around, you're a genuine Boss.

Government bureaucracies are warped on this score due to the excessive nature of modern governmental power: While a peon at, say, Domino's pizza cannot expand his social status much while he's still a peon -- there's no one at Domino's he can boss around, as he's low-man on the totem pole -- a government peon can boss people around. Namely, ordinary citizens and corporations.

Due to the inherent nature of the modern, dysfunctional political system, in which The Government has power over everything, people who can't rise from the level of peon in the bureaucratic system can nevertheless boss the hell out of people outside the bureaucratic system.

And they do. Witness the IRS scandal.

But because Priority 2, Do As Little Work As Possible is superior to Priority 3, Expand Turf, Power, and Responsibility, this means that the bureaucratic impulse is to gather as much power as possible... and then wield it negligently, because negligence takes less work than diligence.

Their imperative isn't to gather as much power as possible and then work harder in exercising it, after all. Their imperative remains: Do As Little Work As Possible. Even with an increased realm of responsibility.

Incidentally, while Imperative 3 seems to conflict with Imperative 2, it actually supports it. After all, the more responsibility and power you have, the more critical you are, and thus, the harder to fire you are.

If you do shitty work in a minor job, you can get fired. If you do shitty work at a Super Important Mission-Critical Job, you get... well, they assign you more interns and assistants to help you manage your super-important load.


Like any biological organism, a Bureaucracy will act according to its own internal imperatives. Cornstalks do not grow in straight lines for ease of the farmer's collection out of their own volition: Cornstalks must be made to grow this way.

The only way to compel a Bureaucracy to serve others rather than itself is to apply external force. A force I'm calling "Heat."

If a bureaucracy gets too arrogant and cruel in dominating citizens and companies, you must apply Heat to it to get it to retreat.

If a bureaucracy is doing too little work, you must apply Heat to it to get the workers to actually start working.

You have to threaten to fire them, for example. You have to let them know that they are about to lose their most important priority -- Protecting Our Phony-Baloney jobs.

Heat can be applied by the president and his lesser ministers, and if the president and his lesser ministers are themselves unwilling to apply heat, then heat can be applied by the press or the public.

But to make bureaucracies function at any degree of acceptable efficiency, heat must be applied from some external source.

Obama is determined to apply no heat himself. Obama is not just the embodiment of the government, as most presidents are; Obama is by, of, and for The Government.

The Government, and not The People, are his actual constituency, government workers, and those people who are, essentially, government employees, in the sense that it is the government and not some third-party private company that pays them their bi-weekly "wages."

Essentially everyone who is on government welfare, from the poorest street-person to the richest crony capitalist looking for another $100 million jolt of government funding, is a Government Employee.

Obama thus will never apply external heat to the bureaucracy, as he is not external to the bureaucracy. He is actually just a very high profile Government Worker, and, like most Government Workers, is keenly interested in Priority 1.a.: Protecting the Phony Baloney Jobs of Other Government Workers.

Obama, being the Ultimate Governmental Failure, has a vested interest in ensuring that other governmental failures are viewed benignly and handled in a charitable fashion.

Now in any normal period of history, were the president himself unwilling to exercise one of his primary duties of riding herd on the bureaucracy and making certain that it serves the public to the extent possible (after first serving itself, of course), the Press would step in and begin applying Heat to both the President and the Bureaucracy.

The Press would begin applying Heat to the President, to force him to protect his own Phony Baloney Job -- and he would protect his own Phony Baloney Job by threatening the Phony Baloney Jobs of those working under him unless they started doing their Phony Baloney Jobs at a more professional, more diligent Phony Baloney level.

But the press won't do this. The press is, of course, extremely protective of Obama personally -- they don't want to criticize him, ever. They all voted for him -- 90% of them voted for him -- and they did so passionately.

Furthermore, the press is keenly interested in advancing Obama's agenda -- and Obama's agenda is, in a single word, "Government." Obama has an interest in defending the government from every allegation lodged against it, and claiming "Nothing to See Here, Folks," at every new corpse it creates, whether due to Fast and Furious or negligence in base security at Benghazi; the press as adopted this "Defend the Bureaucracy At All Costs" as its own cause.

The press may now tut-tut at the VA bureaucracy, acting ruthlessly in their own bureaucratic interests while actually killing veterans through malicious paperwork, but who gave the Bureaucracy this idea that they could get away with murder with no consequences to their Phony Baloney Jobs at all?

Well, Obama did, of course, as the first actor, and then Holder and the rest of the Imperial Praetorian; but next came the media Palace Guard, backing up Obama on his decision that no matter what the fiasco, no matter how deadly the incompetency of the government or how viciously tyrannical its petty ministers treated the citizenry, no Heat whatsoever would be applied to the Bureaucracy, but rather that it would continue to be permitted to "work through the bureaucratic process" and investigate itself internally and so forth.

Obama empowered the Bureaucracy as a first matter, but then the press eagerly agreed with him that it was Racist to demand consequences for what would be firing offenses in any other industry other than Government.

Just last week came the story that an Inspector General charged with investigating EPA misbehavior was complaining that the EPA was not complying with his requests for documents, thus preventing him from doing his job.

Where the hell is the media Heat on this story? For God's sake, an Inspector General is trying to probe bureaucracy malfeasance and incompetency and the bureaucracy is telling him "Go f*** yourself and have a nice day."

And the media gives it a couple of paragraphs.

Is it any wonder the EPA thinks it can get away with this? What actual consequences will they face for doing so?

What's the worst that could happen? Well, if the press kicks up a minor fuss as they did when the Justice Department began bugging reporters, the bureaucracy will be ordered to investigate itself.

Yeahp. Eric Holder is now forced to investigate himself. I'm sure that'll put the fear of God into him.

The ultimate prosecutorial chess match: Eric Holder vs. Eric Holder. Can Eric Holder create a cover-up so great that even he cannot penetrate it?

Answer: Yes.

So what consequences are there, really?

None. Obama has told the bureaucracy that almost nothing they do (or fail to do) will ever threaten their highest priority, 1. Protect Our Phony Baloney Jobs, leaving them as free as the air to Live Life to the Bureaucratic Fullest.

And each time Obama has told them this, the press has seconded him: Aye aye, Captain. Make it so.

Every organism will reach an equilibrium with the habitat in which it exists. The press loves Government, and particularly big-spending progressive/socialist government, but by refusing to apply the slightest amount of Heat to the bureaucratic organism, they are encouraging it to follow its most self-serving, citizen-harming impulses.

The press, by loving the Government too much, is essentially causing the Government to fail. By wishing it to succeed too much -- and covering up all its manifest failures -- they have caused it to fail misbehave even more spectacularly.

The press is not a "Watchdog of Government." It is a License for Government.

Government is not the Washington press corps' beat; Government is the Washington press corps' Cause.

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posted by Ace at 08:43 PM

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