Tuesday, July 15, 2014

'Nice bank ya got there. Be a pity if anything should happen to it.'

No wonder American corporations are fleeing the country as fast as they can buy an Irish competitor. The Obama administration has just extorted $7 billion -- billion! -- from Citibank for some misfeasance that has never really been charged, let alone proven. Basically, Citi is just ponying up the money to make the Feds go away.

This Godfather style of financing the federal government began when Mr Obama announced that BP should put $10 billion -- billion! -- into a pot from which shrimp fisherman and brothel keepers could claim recompense for business lost the big blowout of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The US Constitution explicitly forbids the government from enacting a bill of attainder, or legislated punishment, but here was a bill that wasn't even legislated! It was just announced from the presidential podium.

Ever since, Mr Obama's Justice Department has been ginning up legal actions against American corporations, then settling for some figure between one and ten billion dollars -- billion! The victims pay up to avoid the cost of defending themselves in court, and also of course to avoid a hit to their reputations. This is, after all, a president who routinely uses the bully pulpit to demonize his opponents, from the justices of the US Supreme Court to the Koch Brothers. Not since the Nixon administration have we seen such nastiness from the White House -- and Mr Nixon usually left the character assassination to his vice president.

This is no longer a nation of laws, but a nation of Executive Department fiats. And we have two and one-half years to go before a saner administration can take its place.

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