WASHINGTON, July 11, 2015 — In response to the cold-blooded murder of nine people in a South Carolina church last June 17, the media, the arbiters of popular culture and the South Carolina legislature, led by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, removed the Confederate battle flag from the capitol mast where it has flown for half a century.
Politics, it is said, is the art of the possible. And it seemed far more likely that removing a symbol associated with racism and the institution of Southern slavery, the “stars and bars,” as it is often called incorrectly, was easier to achieve than passing more gun laws.
In a White House statement, President Obama lamented that “once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”
The Economist magazine said, “The president knows that if it were politically possible to pass new gun laws in Washington, it would have happened after the December 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut … Various marginal tweaks to gun laws were tried and failed to gain traction in Congress.”
So, as the Confederate battle flag descended the South Carolina Capitol mast for the last time, a mortified James B. Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, admitted that Dylann Roof, the young man charged with the church murders, was cleared by the FBI to take possession of a .45 caliber handgun.
Due to a paperwork mix up, the FBI agent overseeing Roof’s background check never saw the young man’s arrest report for drug possession, which would have disqualified him for gun ownership. The report was never entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
“That [gun] purchase would have been denied,” said Comey.
“The [FBI’s] failure to block Roof’s purchase is likely to renew scrutiny of a troubled federal background-check system that also allowed seemingly troubled young men to acquire firearms in previous shootings, including a 2011 attack in Tucson that wounded then-congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords,” said the Washington Post.
Thanks to a recent breach of U.S. government computers by Chinese hackers, we now have a good accounting of the number of employees who have worked for our rulers in Washington in recent decades.
It’s around 21.5 million.
That’s a lot of eyes and ears tasked with protecting the precious snail darter from urban encroachment in California; rendering irrelevant the elected school boards with regimented curriculum under their Common Core standards; working on technical issues still plaguing Healthcare.gov; and let’s not forget the favorite gunrunners of Mexico’s drug cartels, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
When in 1971 New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan received a copy of the U.S. government’s secret history of America’s involvement in the Vietnam war from Daniel Ellsberg, he told author David Halberstam that the government “does not function necessarily for the benefit of the Republic but rather for its own ends, its own perpetuation; it has its own codes which are quite different from public codes. Secrecy was a way of protecting itself, not so much from threats by foreign governments, but from detection from its own population on charges of its own competence and wisdom.”
That observation is a segment from Halberstam’s book, “The Best and the Brightest.”
On July 1, 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed on San Francisco’s Pier 14. The alleged shooter, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, is in the U.S. illegally and says he specifically came to San Francisco because it is a “sanctuary city” that ignores our nation’s immigration laws even more than our federal government does.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the .40 caliber handgun used to kill Steinle “was stolen from a federal Bureau of Land Management agent in a car burglary.”
In 2014, a paramilitary unit of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was in a standoff with heavily armed supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy over unpaid grazing fees. Many saw the BLM as “a belligerent occupying army than a government agency serving U.S. citizens,” said the Los Angeles Times. And that unease was equally felt among local law enforcement.
“I don’t know any sheriff who doesn’t want a good relationship with the BLM,” said Garfield County Sheriff James Perkins to the Times. “We’re a rural agency and we’d like a partnership, but it seems they have a hard time recognizing our authority. They’d rather be independent.”
Lost in the noise of the recent political theater surrounding the official banning of the Confederate battle flag is the question of government competence. Tens of millions of federal bureaucrats surround us, many armed, affecting the lives of all Americans through their incompetence or “independent” overbearing.
The effect of omnipresent and inept government in a so-called free society — not race, flags, or gun control — should be the topic of national discussion before the next Fourth of July rolls around.