Lyles: Another example of ‘Gesture Liberalism’

By Dick Lyles

President Obama’s response to the NSA domestic spying scandal is simply one more example of “Gesture Liberalism” which has become the hallmark of his presidency.

Dick Lyles

Gesture Liberalism is a phrase coined by George Will that refers to problem-solving initiatives by liberals that create great fanfare but do nothing to solve the problem. Hence they become mere gestures rather than real solutions.

The stimulus package was Gesture Liberalism — hundreds of billions squandered that resulted in no significant economic stimulus. So was the contraception mandate — which has nothing to do with health care insurance, the purpose of which is to protect against unexpected developments. The current move to raise the minimum wage is another example. According to Will, “Less than 3 percent of the workforce earns the minimum; more than 60 percent of those who do earn it get a raise within a year; more than half of minimum wage earners are students or other part-time workers from households with average incomes of $53,000.” The mandate is simply a gesture to the liberal devotion to “equality.”

Likewise, Mr. Obama’s proposal regarding the NSA’s domestic spying is nothing more than an empty gesture toward every American’s concerns about their constitutional right to privacy. It is also an example of his “ready, fire, aim” approach to solving problems. He develops a solution without thinking through its implementation and America inherits the mess.

Most Americans think it is wrong that the NSA is collecting vast amounts of data about everyone’s cell phone and email conversations. Mr. Obama’s proposal does nothing to curtail this. Rather he suggests that private sector contractors should store the data rather than have the government store it. Then government agencies would have access to the data through secret channels with permission granted by secret courts. Really?

Of all the organizations Americans should trust implicitly now, it is private sector allies of the Obama administration. Who would run these organizations? Word has it the Solyndra management team is looking for work. Or maybe we could hire the geniuses who designed the Obamacare website.

The problem isn’t where the data is stored. The problem is that the data is being collected. History has proven time and again that when people are put in a position to abuse their power and trust — particularly to advance their own causes or self-interest — they will abuse that power.

It almost appears that Mr. Obama is trying to convince us that if he creates a mini-bureaucracy that is sufficiently complex, we should feel protected because it will be too complex to work, let alone work against us.

Liberals asked Americans to trust them when they railroaded Obamacare through without allowing those who voted for it to read it first. The results speak for themselves. Now Mr. Obama is asking us to trust him to work out a scheme to protect us from misuse of government data about us that should never be collected in the first place.

The first time they abuse us, shame on them. If we continue to let them abuse us, shame on us.

No one, including Mr. Obama, has made a case for collecting and storing this data. When the initial protocols were installed following 9/11, no one predicted it would go this far. To blame this on previous administrations is frivolous and irresponsible. On top of that it is irrelevant.

The only relevant fact is that our government is inappropriately invading the privacy of every American today and it should stop. There is no compelling case to do otherwise.

Lyles, a Poway resident, is a business/management consultant and best-selling author. Reader comments, through letters to the editor or online , are encouraged.

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Posted by Staff on Jan 22 2014. Filed under Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

8 Comments for “Lyles: Another example of ‘Gesture Liberalism’”

  1. Dick, if you have a single example of ANY Americans having their personal data "invaded" I URGE you to contact the local US Attorney General,

    • Frank

      I wrote an email to Eric Holder informing him that someone hacked into my computer and stole copies of my last three years tax returns. I never heard back from him or his office about that. However, I did get an email notice from the IRS just two days later that I was to be audited. I wrote the IRS back and told them that I am deceased. I immediately got an email back from the IRS notifying me that the scheduled audit was postponed for six months because of my death. Two days after that my wife got a condolence letter concerning my death from Eric Holders office. Two more days after that I got an email notice from my health insurance carrier that I signed up for through that because of my death it was time for my free annual aids screening but that I still had not met my deductible for them to cover treatments for my death. Three days after that I got hard copies of my stolen tax returns back in the mail from a Nigerian nobleman who sent an apology for stealing my tax returns – plus he sent me five new Target credit cards to cover my burial expenses.

      To say the least, I’m no longer paranoid about government spying, potential violations of my privacy, or governmental abuse of my personal information – as my experience with them doing that has been really good. Therefore, as the snarky hillbillies say when they come to town; “What difference does it make?”

  2. JPark46

    Dear Mr. Lyles: In your column you state "So was the contraception mandate — which has nothing to do with health care insurance, the purpose of which is to protect against unexpected developments." Isn't the point of all health care insurance "to protect against unexpected developments", including unwanted or unplanned pregnancy?

    You also state that the Obama administration response to problems, specifically the NSA spying issue, is "ready, fire, aim" from which it "…develops a solution without thinking through its implementation and America inherits the mess." Sort of reminds me of the previous administration's "plan" to invade Iraq and America's inheritance of that action.. Any mildly informed person would have known that the result is what you see now; renewed and apparently never ending sectarian and tribal warfare. The money spent on that and subsequent military debacles could have paid for national health insurance, better education and improved national infrastructure. But what's a world without a good, profitable war or two?

    I'm puzzled by the reaction of the right to drone warfare, the NSA problem and similar issues. If terrorists of any kind caused damage to US property or injury and death to US citizens that could have been prevented by NSA activity, the right would be apoplectic in their outrage. The right was perfectly fine when laws like The Patriot Act were passed, taking away "God given" Constitutional civil liberties. And let's be clear. Both left and right allow these things to happen. My big "conspiracy theory" is that both sides could care less about anyone who can't keep them in power and increase their wealth. But that's another story all together.

    You assert that it is irrelevant to hold the previous administration responsible for the way things are today. I disagree. In many ways, the Obama administration is merely continuing and expanding the policies of the previous administration. "No one predicted it would go this far." Maybe not, but why should anyone be surprised?

    I do agree with you, however, on your comment regarding how we should feel about abuse of power. How does that go? "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

    And just a little note to Frank: your satirical comments are always priceless.

    • Frank

      "Isn't the point of all health care insurance "to protect against unexpected developments", including unwanted or unplanned pregnancy?" Sure it is! That's why unrestricted fetal murder; death panels; euthanasia for smokers, drinkers and druggies over the age of 60 and everyone else over 80; sterilization of the poor and the weird; extermination of the extremely poor, the homeless, the chronically ill, people with aids, those with venereal disease, infants with birth defects, mentally and emotionally defective children; those with IQ's under 100, felons, illegal aliens, etc., – constitutes a much more excellent preventative 'healthcare' program that would eliminate and further prevent the existence of the great heard of parasitic societal rejects that currently suck money and life out of the rest of our healthy population. The problem with Obamacare is that it doesn't go nearly far enough to provide such robust prevention program of extermination which would pretty much eliminate unwanted and unexpected developments. If by some chance Obamacare doesn't completely capsize and implode all together, there's hope for such a program in Obamacare, Phase II.

      • Amy Roost

        Hey Frank,

        You forgot to mention the Commies!!

        You're falling down on the Red Scare front. Get with it, man!!!

        • Frank

          I included "…those with "IQ's under 100,". That covers Commies, Democrats, RINO's, Independents, Libertarians, Environmental Wonks, et al. In the future I will use very explicit and simple terms to communicate to those of you Commies, Democrats….etc.,who, because of your low IQ, are incapable of making simple abstract connections.

      • JPark46

        In the immortal words of Sgt. Hulka, "Lighten up, Frances". You just strung together about every heebie-jeebie about ACA ever spouted by Fox News, World News Daily, Glenn Beck, David Fischer and so many other ultra-extremists. Please, provide one, just one real, verifiable example of a death panel and the resulting demise of anyone in this country from said panel.

        I'm sorry you're so frightened about commies, nazis, socialists, gays, women, fascists, blacks, browns or whoever is the satan-de-jour. I am much more frightened by people like Jim Garrow, David Barton, Allen West, Erik Rush and others who actually call for a violent overthrow of the elected President (yes, President Obama, warts and all, was legally, constitutionally elected).

        In all sincerity, please open your mind, get off the extremist websites and watch something other than Fox News. I understand it's hard to find news sources that aren't skewed one way or the other. But at least look at a different point of view. The world can be scary, no doubt, but not nearly as scary as you seem to believe it is.


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