Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Repost: On Wealth and Income Inequality

Ludwig von Mises
Ludwig von Mises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
[I am re-posting this article which originally appeared here on November 9, 2009, with minor revisions. Because of the recent increased interest in income and wealth inequality, addressing this topic seems to be especially needed now.]


By Eddie Howell

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin [1]

When tougher economic times come, as at present, we hear more about how we need to redistribute wealth and income to help those who have less. This is especially true under Barack Obama, who is on record as favoring redistribution. For him, this should have been part of the Supreme Court’s decrees during the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. We are fortunate that it wasn’t, because that would have brought on a constitutional crisis and, if serious redistribution happened, the collapse of our economy.

Equality of wealth and income in a nation has never been and never will be a fact. It is a grasping at straws and striving after wind to attempt to realize it. If it could be made real, it would result in universal poverty, economic depression and degradation of everyone’s standard of living.

When people observe the different economic levels among people, their sympathy for those at the lower part of the spectrum sometimes leads them to believe that wealth should be confiscated from those at the upper end, and distributed to the less wealthy. Sometimes this motive drives political movements and tax policy. In some people’s religious efforts to help and serve the poor, they call upon government to help in their projects through grants, tax changes, etc.

We do not wish poverty on anyone, but we do recognize that some people are going to be poorer and some richer than others. Poverty is not necessarily a permanent or long-lasting condition, nor is wealth. There are opportunities and hazards which can sometimes change things quickly. I want to discuss reasons that forced redistribution of wealth, as advocated by some left-wing or liberal activists is a terrible and destructive idea.

Safety Net
To start, I will say that we need some kind of safety net to prevent and correct conditions of life-threatening poverty, i.e., hunger and homelessness. For those unable to work and support themselves, we rightly have programs to help them. For the homeless, the focus should be, not only on helping them in their homeless condition, but also in striving to help them to earn their way out of that condition. Most welfare help, other than for those permanently disabled, should be of a temporary and emergency type.

A High Standard of Living
According to distinguished Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises:
“Inequality of wealth and incomes is an essential feature of the market economy. It is the implement that makes the consumers supreme in giving them the power to force all those engaged in production to comply with their orders. It forces all those engaged in production to the utmost exertion in the service of the consumers. It makes competition work. He who best serves the consumers profits most and accumulates riches …

“This country enjoys the highest standard of living ever known in history because for several generations no attempts were made toward ‘equalization’ and ‘redistribution.’ Inequality of wealth and incomes is the cause of the masses’ well-being, not the cause of anybody’s distress. Where there is a ‘lower degree of inequality,’ there is necessarily a lower standard of living of the masses.” [2]

In general, it is unjust for the government to take the fruit of a person’s labor and give it to someone who has not earned it. It is, in fact, legalized thievery if it goes beyond a minimal reasonable amount. The best role of government in preventing and dealing with poverty, beyond a minimal safety net, is to maintain an environment of free market competition and to punish fraud and abuse.

Capitalism Is Not the Problem
Here is a brief conversation between Milton Friedman and Phil Donahue about the supposed drawbacks of capitalism:



There are so many examples of government interference and manipulation in the markets today that hardly any transaction completely escapes. Thus we have constant cost overruns, extreme tax rates, overbearing regulation and low incomes for many.

Any serious attempt to equalize wealth or income requires the imposition of socialism and the loss of economic freedom:
“The only alternative to this financial pressure as exercised by the market is direct pressure and compulsion as exercised by the police power. The authorities must be entrusted with the task of determining the quantity and quality of work that each individual is bound to perform. As individuals are unequal with regard to their abilities, this requires an examination of their personalities on the part of the authorities. The individual becomes an inmate of a penitentiary, as it were, to whom a definite task is assigned. If he fails to achieve what the authorities have ordered him to do, he is liable to punishment.” [3]

Inequality Is Not Unjust, and Is Necessary
The market economy requires an inequality of wealth and income. The pressures of the market serve as incentives to work, save, improve, advance, learn, and innovate. Without these incentives, under a socialist system, the incentives are toward gaining political power by exercising more control over others. The tendency is always to “innovate,” not by research, and more efficient production and marketing methods, but by more onerous requirements and expanding government power. This is always the tendency of bureaucracy. Bureaus try to perpetuate themselves by finding more things to regulate and more ways to control people.

Consider the fact that when the authorities determined that environmental pollution was a problem needing attention (as it was), the number and kind of regulations grew rapidly. Having achieved a good deal of cleaning up, government sought ever more authority to regulate and rule, and more hazards were “discovered,” even to the point that carbon dioxide, the gas we breathe out, has now been declared a pollutant, and the objectively stupid cap and trade legislation is actually being considered. We have reached the point where the “cure” is truly worse than the disease.

The same kind of bureaucratic growth tends to happen whenever government can take authority over activities that under capitalism are part of the private sector.

Private Sector Abuses Involve Government
The main abuses by the private sector have occurred when companies, professional associations, and unions and others have succeeded in getting government to enforce their economic interests, to the disadvantage of others, and in defiance of market forces, as discussed here by Ayn Rand with Mike Wallace in 1959:



Because of private-sector interests colluding with government, we have a lot of large and smaller evils such as:

1. Abuse of eminent domain: Taking property from citizens to provide to other citizens for their private gain, including spending public funds to finance sports arenas and events.
2. Handing out government funds to lure businesses to locate in a particular area.
3. Using the power of the Fed and the Treasury Department to bail out large private banks and take over private companies.
4. Government granting authority over a given profession such that a private association’s pronouncements have the force of law (e.g., AICPA, AMA, and ABA).
Also, these groups can restrict education and practice in these professions.
5. Labor unions employing government help to shake down employers for more benefits, beyond what the market alone would warrant.

If these entities could all operate without the force of government, outside of dealing with crime and abuse, the market would determine the results of economic activity. And the market can do a much better job than government. The more government control we have in any area, the less freedom. “That governs best which governs least.”

Liberal Offers
A major mistake people make when they accept the liberals’ claims that the government must provide what they need, is that they somehow trust politicians more than they trust private enterprise. Politicians are definitely not more trustworthy, nor, as a group, better-motivated than businessmen. Nor are they more knowledgeable, and generally they are much less knowledgeable about running a business operation of any kind. So when they set about to determine everyone’s income (think: pay czar), and wealth (IRS), we need to be prepared to work at gunpoint. Remember, current government officials think it will be all right to imprison people who refuse to buy insurance. That’s how much respect they have for our freedom.

Low-income people have many opportunities in this country. True, a lot of better opportunities are open to people who have inherited wealth or who are especially talented in some high-paying skill. There is always someone who has more and who does more than his fellows. But these are among the differences that make life interesting, and encourage people to strive for improvement, and to appreciate their accomplishments.

Many of the poorer people have items considered luxuries not long ago. Many items people of modest means have are of comparable quality to items rich people have. Even after all the liberals’ attempts to destroy incentive, most people want to try to succeed on their own, and don’t want a handout unless life leaves them no other choice. For those who need help, many charitable operations are at work. The Obama Administration hurts this by planning to reduce income tax deductions for charitable contributions, and allowing the economy to languish, making it harder for people to contribute to charities anyway.

Liberals buy votes by promising government benefits to “victimized” groups. People in these groups are often willing to give over control of much of their lives to the authorities in order to receive these promised benefits. The benefits prove to be less than expected, and less as time goes by, but these voters are trapped into thinking that they must rely on government, so they keep voting for those who make the promises.

Conclusion
The demagoguery about “income and wealth inequality” is appealing to some people who think they should be entitled to what others have, and that government should give it to them. It also appeals to people who want to be in charge of the redistribution, whether to gain power over others, or to feel good about themselves. Class envy is the very lifeblood of "liberalism" today, as it is with communism. The exploitation of the “class struggle” is the whole process. Clinging to that narrow and misguided view is what has produced much of the economic and social failure in our society. The sense of entitlement and victimhood encouraged by liberals, their false promises, and exploitation of the powerless drive much of the feeling of helplessness and despair around us. People who should know better, including politicians, fall for the liberal premises that lead to frustration and discontent. Liberals have little to offer as economic solutions. The results of their tax-and-spend and welfare-state policies can be seen in places like Michigan and California, and are coming soon to a state near you.*

*By "liberals" and "liberalism" in this article, I mean liberals and liberalism as understood today, not classical liberalism. Mises refers to liberalism in the classic tradition, which is something very different.

[1] Quoted at Goodreads.com.

[2] Ludwig von Mises, “Inequality of Wealth and Incomes,” Ideas on Liberty, No.1. Irvington, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education. (May 1955) 83-88. Reprinted in Essays on Liberty, III. Irvington, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education. (1958)123-31. Previously found on Mises.org, at http://mises.org/EFANDI/CH9.ASP, but the link is currently not available (as of 12/04/13).

[3] Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, Scholar’s Edition, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala., 1998, 285-286. Ebook available at Mises.org. Excerpt at http://mises.org/humanaction/chap15sec7.asp.

Further reading: from Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism in the Classical Tradition, "5 The Foundations of Liberal Policy: The Inequality of Wealth and Income," German edition published in 1927, English 1985. Ebook available for viewing and download at http://mises.org/liberal.asp    
 This section at http://mises.org/liberal/ch1sec5.asp

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Obamacare: Just Another Unsustainable Boondoggle of Our Out-of-Control Government

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...
Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As if the Obama presidency was not already enough of a disaster, the presentation of Obamacare, in all its polluted, poisonous, and maddening reality should convince us that those we have in charge of the Executive Branch represent a sad, sick, and sorry parody of what government should be. No administration in memory approaches this level of incompetence and arrogance.

One theory I have thought about is that Obama's plan is working out just as he wants. When you're trying to transform a great nation into a third-world dictatorship of fascist/marxist socialism, what you have to start with is destroying the institutions that have characterized that great nation over the years of its greatness. That is what we are seeing, whatever Obama's intentions may be. At the end of his term, we are going to be less free, greatly further in debt, and with little to be optimistic about based on the performance of this pathetic administration.

Obama today, 12/03/2013, is starting a “new campaign” to try to re-sell Obamacare. He is trying to cover over his deliberate lies with new lies, such as the one that says Republicans have presented no healthcare plans. They have presented plans that would address the problem of uninsured people without wrecking the entire system to do it. Obama's rhetoric suggests that he has a poor grip on reality, apparently thinking that more speeches and a shriller tone will correct things, when Obamacare can never be corrected at all, since it tries to defy the laws of economics.

Despite the Administration's touting of the improved healthcare.gov website, the following is still true:
  1. Many people have still been unable to navigate through the process;
  2. The website is not at all secure, and people are putting their personal information and social security numbers on a site that is said to be subject to easy hacking; and
  3. The website does not have a mechanism to effect premium payments to the insurance companies, and thus it cannot complete a transaction for the purchase of insurance. Therefore, many people who may think they have purchased insurance because they have created an account and shared their information will likely find that, when they need the insurance, it is not going to be there. It's hard to believe that this is going to go over well with these people.
We are learning of millions of people losing their insurance coverage, and many finding that the coverage available to them will come with higher premiums and much higher deductibles.

With Obama's approval rating barely at 40 percent, and with the president vowing to spend the next three years fixing Obamacare if necessary, his second-term agenda may be dead in the water. And even Obamacare is unlikely to survive. Although the president has vowed that Obamacare will not be repealed as long as he is in office, it could be killed through defunding, if Congress could work up the necessary courage.

Obama's other problems and scandals are ongoing, and despite administration stonewalling, they have only begun to be investigated. Obama's ranks as the most corrupt and inept presidency yet. Lies, crony capitalism, illegal harassment of political opponents (IRS, for example), gun-running, endless debt that can never be repaid, etc.

The increased debt alone defies comprehension by its enormity. To think that this is going to end well for America's economic situation if continued on the present path, is to live in a fool's paradise. I truly believe that President Obama should be impeached and removed from office immediately, while America is still functioning. Think Detroit. That's the path we're on, only on a much greater scale.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Trying for the Biggest Extortion Shakedown in History

English: President Barack Obama, Vice Presiden...
English: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff, react in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, as the House passes the health care reform bill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You've probably seen the videos. Over and over.

As President Obama was saying, “If you like your doctor, you can keep him; if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it. Period,” he was telling a lie, knowing it was a lie. In fact, people who were paying attention knew this was extremely doubtful, but hoped it might be true. This scheme (Obamacare) was put into effect after several lies from the Con-Artist-in-Chief and his administration, pushed through on a strict party vote, under cover of darkness, handing out exemptions and exceptions in exchange for support; well, you know the history.

Enough people believed the lie that it didn't keep Obama from getting the law passed, and getting reelected. (And stonewalling on Benghazi didn't hurt either.) When you add that to the roll-out fiasco, and the likelihood that young, healthy people will not be enrolling in Obamacare in sufficient numbers to support the program as designed, the Obama Administration is looking at a massive flop. It was supposed to be (and may somehow still may be) a gigantic new entitlement program and wealth transfer mechanism. It appears unsustainable at every level. It confiscates money in the form of the mandates and inflated premiums. Instead of better, lower cost healthcare, it will yield increased taxes, and, contrary to Obama's promises, greatly increased cost, and many people losing insurance, under a misguided and misrepresented, all-around lousy plan. Many people who supported the law are finding that they will suffer harm as this monstrosity is implemented, not the least of which is a serious loss of freedom.

The credibility of Barack Obama has been seriously undermined. But it has been obvious to a lot of people that he can hardly be believed on any promise.

We've been seeing headlines like, “Did the president mislead us on Obamacare?” No, he didn't “mislead” us, he willfully lied about his “signature” accomplishment. For the sake of politics. That is because, to these people, politics trumps everything. When liberals are in power, we get incompetence, a bad economy, and tyranny.

But, of course, it's the fault of the insurance companies. Or maybe George W. Bush. Or the Republican Party.

Update 11/07/13: Further reading: "Barack Obama and His Democrat Party: The Most Documented Liars in the Entire History Of The Human Race," at Start Thinking Right. I agree almost entirely with the article and its theological analysis, but would add that I think that not only will Obama's and his supporters' actions bring on God's judgment, but that we are already under judgment in the form of our corrupt Federal government and an increasingly corrupt and deceived electorate. Also, I am not sure Obama is demon-possessed, but his actions can certainly serve in preparation for the Antichrist. James Madison said,

Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical [imaginary] idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men; so that we do not depend upon their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.*

 * Speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 20, 1788. Quoted by Founding Father Quotes.
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Government Shutdown Not Unbearable – Especially Nice for Obama and Reid

Cantor and other House and Senate leaders meet...
Cantor and other House and Senate leaders meeting with President Barack Obama in November 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wow, the Democrats get to huff and puff about how they're not going to negotiate over either Obamacare or the debt ceiling. They get to call Republicans jihadists, terrorists, arsonists, etc. They get to summarily reject the House GOP's efforts to fund certain items, and talk about “Why should we want to help a kid with cancer?” Why should World War II veterans get to visit the WWII Memorial? After some vets visited anyway, they have apparently secured the site with sandbags and more barricades. That'll show 'em! These guys mean business.


They'd like to make the shutdown hurt as much as possible, then sit back and laugh about how (they think) they have a big political advantage.


But whatever progress they thought they were making toward getting Boehner to cave may have been dealt a severe blow by a Wall Street Journal report that says, in part:

Said a senior administration official: “We are winning...It doesn't really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result.”


White House allies, however, say a long shutdown could make the White House's position less tenable. Mr. Obama is the most visible symbol of the U.S. government, they say, and will inevitably share in the blame as hardships mount and people weary of the infighting.
To his credit, House Speaker Boehner responded with appropriate anger: “This is not some damn game!”





Reid was even getting so angry and personal about Senator Ted Cruz, he felt he had to apologize for his breach of Senate rules of decorum. I haven't heard anything from the GOP that resembles the Democrats' arrogant rudeness. [Reid story via Drudge Report]

President Obama, thus far has responded with the following:
  1. Rather than fulfilling his duty to mitigate the inconvenience of the shutdown for the American people, he's trying to make it worse, by instructing the Senate Democrats not to accept any of the House funding bills, which would be helpful to people. Politics trumps duty (and decency) for these people.
  2. The whining Obama is totally unwilling to negotiate. Instead of leading, he is campaigning against the idea of talking to the other party about very real and legitimate concerns they have, which represent those of their constituents.
  3. As Rush Limbaugh pointed out, Obama has apparently become the first president to deliberately talk down the stock market. He's trying to put a scare into investors about the possibility of a default, which he, I suppose, wouldn't mind seeing just so he could blame it on Republicans.
Further, according to Mark Levin, lawyer and radio talk show host, Obama is preparing to blow up the separation of powers even further by raising the debt limit unilaterally. While this remains to be seen, it is entirely plausible, given the Obama track record of lawless acts, in regard to Obamacare, the National Labor Relations Board and a good many other things.



Obama must either negotiate with Republicans or see the debt limit crisis define his legacy. My suspicion is that he doesn't care about his legacy as long as he can transform America into a socialist/fascist dictatorship.


The citizens of the United States, I believe, are recognizing Obama's stubbornness as the main problem. Reid and his rubber-stamp Senate are Obama's co-culprits in the little drama. The adults are the Republicans, and the victim is the United States of America. Yes, things can get a lot worse, thanks to the Democrats. Republicans should hold the line.
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rand Paul's Warning: Orwell's "1984" Is in America

Decrees of the Obama Administration and various laws passed by the U.S. Congress seriously threaten our individual liberty. By the Patriot Act, the NDAA, NSA surveillance, TSA, etc., government shows less and less concern about liberty or the Constitution, and greater and greater willingness to violate these rights in the name of “security.”


Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Those who can give up essential Liberty. to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Is this beginning to describe our country?


It is said that freedom, once lost, is not easily regained.


By the way, many of today's younger people have barely heard of, let alone read, George Orwell's 1984. I would urge everyone to read it. In my opinion, it may be the most important book of the twentieth century. At least three feature films of it have been released. The latest has John Hurt as Winston Smith and Richard Burton as Inner Party member O'Brien.

Senator Rand Paul is one of the too-few legislators who believes in the U.S. Constitution. We are allowing our protections to erode. When voting for Senators and Congressmen, we must pay attention to their voting records on important issues and choose accordingly. The liberty issue is one that overrides the temporary political controversies of the day. It can be seen that serious votes and events are taking place which the mainstream media will not report on, or, if they do, it's with a minimum of mention. How many of the issues Senator Paul speaks of have been covered significantly in the MSM?





The trends are clear. Big Brother is already watching!


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Monday, September 2, 2013

Obama's Mistake: Ready to Turn Syrian Tragedy into American Failure

English: Cropped version of File:Official port...
Cropped version of File:Official portrait of Barack Obama.jpg.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Why, oh, why does President Obama think he can correct or improve anything by launching a military attack on Syria? There are so many things wrong with this, it's hard to know where to start. I am listing a few of the major reasons why I believe Obama's proposed attack is a very bad idea.

  1. Obama has waited too long for military action to be of any benefit. Two years ago was the time to do something, if something was to be done. He chose not to. That was a good choice, but now the situation has changed so much that even if military action were a good idea now in some kind of theory, which it definitely is not, there are many complications that make it very unlikely to succeed in any significant way. Russia is Syria's supplier and champion. Hezbollah and various other entities have reinforced Assad to the point that without America's actual participation in the civil war, Assad is virtually assured of victory. Even if he were deposed, his replacement would be someone even worse. The rebels would soon set about to create an Islamic state that would hate America as much as Assad does, or more.
  1. If there were any practicality to attacking Syria now, and there isn't, telegraphing the intention weeks in advance could only harm the chance of success of actually destroying anything that would affect the outcome in Syria.
  1. The leaders of the so-called “free world,” not necessarily the sharpest these days, are at least smart enough to see that Obama's desired attack is a misguided idea. There would be little support in the international community for his actions, and much blame for America for things that would go wrong.
  1. Just about everyone can see the utter hypocrisy of overreacting to the tragic gas attack – when Saddam Hussein was gassing his own countrymen during the George W. Bush years, Obama and his friends saw no need to do anything about it. Saddam killed many thousands more than Assad has thus far. Also, Obama knows that under Assad over 100,000 Syrians have died by means of bullets and bombs, but that has warranted no action on the part of the U.S. in Obama's estimation. But the people killed by conventional means are just as dead as those killed by poison gas.

  2. Obama brought this “crisis” upon himself with his “red line” statements. It was a red line that seemed definite, but the consequences of crossing it (more than once) were anything but. It is mainly to avoid the embarrassment of not enforcing the red line at all that Obama now wants to attack Syria. As bad as the evil gas attack was, it does not warrant the response Obama wants to use.

  3. Obama's proposed attack would require a supplemental appropriation by Congress since there is not sufficient funding to do it otherwise. It is doubtful that Congress wants to approve Obama's plan (to the extent he has any plan), and doing so would cost many millions and kill a good many people – for what? To save Obama's ego?

  4. It seems obvious that this idea is poorly thought out in terms of its consequences. Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized that this would not be like Iraq, but if one examines the history of U.S. interventions in the Middle East under Obama, it's easy to see that nothing has worked out as well as was hoped. Libya has been changed from a dictatorship under Qaddafi into an Al-Qaeda stronghold. Egypt, where we have not intervened militarily but diplomatically, has endured an Islamist regime only recently removed. Egypt is now a horrifying place for its citizens, especially the Christians. The economy is in shambles. How long before someone thinks we must intervene militarily there, too? “Mission creep” is inevitable in military interventions. The war in Afghanistan has dragged on for over a decade without really accomplishing the whole mission, not because of our military, but because of our politicians.

    After the U.S. Attacks Syria, if such an attack takes place, what happens to the neighboring countries, especially Israel? Neither Syria nor Iran nor Hezbollah would feel constrained from sending multiple rockets there if they feared no U.S. response, or maybe even if they did. In any event, Israel would be left in a very difficult position, and the result could well be a wider Mid-East war in which we would have to fight.
Probably, some big financiers think they would profit from an attack on Syria, as they typically do from any war. As I see it, it would be of serious harm to America and Israel and would not be of any benefit to Syrian people vulnerable to Assad's attacks with either conventional or chemical weapons. The only realistic solution is a negotiated settlement, to be reached, hopefully, before Assad destroys even more thousands of people. The U.S. can probably have very little influence on such a settlement.

The Obama Administration and Congress need to think this through a lot more thoroughly than they have up to now. They should listen to Sarah Palin's advice: Let Allah sort it out.
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Our Phony, Fake, Politically Posturing, Dishonest President



President Barack Obama, in constant campaign mode because he has no clue how to govern (i.e., lead), is out on the trail blaming Republicans for our troubles and accusing them of being focused on “phony scandals.”


Barack Obama, who has done nothing positive that I am aware of to benefit America, never tires of blaming others and, being unwilling to own up to any of his failures, just dismisses these very real scandals as “phony.” In a sane political environment, any of five (at least) serious scandals would bring about either (1) abject apologies and serious personnel discipline and possible criminal trials, or (2) the impeachment or resignation of the president.

The “phony scandals” line is part of the administration’s policy of stonewalling on these serious scandals and hoping they’ll go away as time goes on. There will be no special prosecutors, because appointing them would imply that there may be something to prosecute – which of course there is.

Washington, says the president, has “taken its eyes off the ball.” Otherwise, of course, they’d be passing more tax increases, approving greater and greater spending, and creating more idiotic “green energy” programs, doing more bankrolling of crony “green” companies that will never succeed, some of which we’ll get anyway.

The Obama Administration’s corruption is a real scandal, and sometimes breaks out in such blatant offenses as the IRS’ illegal targeting of Obama’s political opponents, plus Fast and Furious, a gun-running operation gone wrong (that was supposed to bring about demand for more gun control, but actually facilitated the deaths of an American Border Patrol agent and many Mexicans). Then there’s the Benghazi terrorist attack, in which four Americans died, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. The president and secretary of state abandoned the Americans to die and lied to their survivors and the American people. Add to these the brazen targeting of James Rosen and the Associated Press reporters by the Justice Department, plus the NSA revelations about accumulating everyone’s phone records, reading who knows how many emails and listening to who knows how many phone calls of Americans and our allies, not to mention the creation of a massive database of everyone’s information. Any of these should be enough to bring this administration down.

But simply label them “phony” and “fake” and hope they’ll disappear – that’s the strategy, and the awful problem is, it may work a great deal better than it should. Until this pathetic administration (and the Democrats) are out of power, we will endure more and more scandal and less and less correction by those responsible. The GOP must become real opposition, and citizens need to pay more attention.

Friday, July 19, 2013

America in Distress: Leftists Are Doing All They Can to Unravel Our Country



Few individual things the left wing is doing these days really surprise me, but the speed and thoroughness at which they are accomplishing the destruction of America as we have known it is startling.

The Obama Administration is stonewalling and in denial on five or six major scandals, Obamacare looms as a destroyer of freedom, jobs, and health care coverage, the Senate just voted for an immigration bill that contains no assurance of secure borders ever, and codifies a come-one-come-all approach which endangers our economy as well as national security. The immigration bill, passed unread (unwritten?), in an unnecessary rush with very little deliberation, awaits House action. Fortunately, the House of Representatives may not be as gullible as the Senate, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has given assurance that the Senate bill will not be taken up by the House.

The immigration issue should be approached slowly and deliberately, and start with assured border control. Otherwise, it’s better to do nothing.

IRS Scandal Gets Worse

As days go by, more revelations come to light about how high up the hierarchy this criminal business goes. Now it’s up to the level of the IRS chief counsel, an Obama appointee, and the White House chief of staff and the White House chief counsel had information about it but claim Obama did not.

There is as much chance of reforming the IRS as there is of persuading Hamas to be nice guys and not bother Israel. Not gonna happen. Replace the IRS with a different smaller agency with limited power (such as not seizing money or property without a court order, not leaking confidential tax records, not running Obamacare, etc.). Throw out the entire tax code and replace it with a greatly simplified flat tax. Replace the politically-appointed leadership and fire all personnel who were involved in directing the abusive actions.

The Administration adds insult to injury by (1) recruiting thousands more IRS agents to enforce Obamacare, and (2) handing out $70 million in bonuses to IRS personnel.

The current situation is probably the best opportunity short of total societal collapse that we will ever see to get rid of the IRS. I wish Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) success in his efforts and I hope many will join in. As Rahm Emanuel said, we shouldn’t let a good crisis go to waste.

Dumb Diplomacy
As though demagoguery on “climate change” in the U.S. and U.N. weren’t enough, President Obama spoke at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin about how this is the great issue of our time, implying it can only be dealt with by endless taxes and cockamamie schemes that will never work, shutting down energy production and imposing even more severe government control on everything. What a stupid, sick joke. The whole thing is idiotic, and I am ’way past the point of even pretending to want to be civil about this evil hoax any more.
* * *
And, more recently, Obama feels he must fight for homosexual rights in Africa and everywhere else. As a famous preacher has pointed out, this administration has made the sins of Romans 1 their political platform, and by gosh, they’re going to be sure to impose them on everyone, like it or not. This reminds me of The Onion’s satirical piece a few years ago called “Massachusetts Supreme Court Orders All Citizens to Gay Marry.”

Gay Marriage Ruling: Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito Correctly Describe the Current Judicial Weirdness Regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Ruling

If you want to read something really interesting and meaningful, read Justice Scalia’s blistering dissent to the gay marriage ruling.

Mr. Scalia objects to the Court ruling where there is no controversy before them. He notes that the President enforced DOMA in this case only to give the “plaintiff” standing. In fact, all parties were in agreement as to the issue itself as well as with the lower court ruling.


…We have never before agreed to speak – to “say what the law is” – where there is no controversy before us. In the more than two centuries that this Court has existed as an institution, we have never suggested that we have the power to decide a question when every party agrees with both its nominal opponent and the court below on that question's answer. The United States reluctantly conceded that at oral argument [citation]….

…The majority concludes that the only motive for this Act was the “bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group.” [citation]. Bear in mind that the object of this condemnation is not the legislature of some once-Confederate Southern state (familiar objects of the Court’s scorn, [citation]), but our respected coordinate branches, the Congress and Presidency of the United States. Laying such a charge against them should require the most extraordinary evidence, and I would have thought that every attempt would be made to indulge a more anodyne explanation for the statute. The majority does the opposite – affirmatively concealing from the reader the arguments that exist in justification. It makes only a passing mention of the “arguments put forward” by the Act's defenders, and does not even trouble to paraphrase or describe them [citation]. I imagine that this is because it is harder to maintain the illusion of the Act’s supporters as unhinged members of a wild-eyed lynch mob when one first describes their views as they see them….


Justice Alito, in a separate dissenting opinion, writes, in part


…United States clearly is not a proper petitioner in this case. The United States does not ask us to overturn the judgment of the court below or to alter that judgment in any way. Quite to the contrary, the United States argues emphatically in favor of the correctness of that judgment. We have never before reviewed a decision at the sole behest of a party that took such a position, and to do so would be to render an advisory opinion, in violation of Article III’s dictates. For the reasons given in Justice Scalia’s dissent, I do not find the Court's arguments to the contrary to be persuasive….

…In asking the Court to determine that §3 of DOMA is subject to and violates heightened scrutiny, Windsor and the United States thus ask us to rule that the presence of two members of the opposite sex is as rationally related to marriage as white skin is to voting or a Y-chromosome is to the ability to administer an estate. That is a striking request and one that unelected judges should pause before granting. Acceptance of the argument would cast all those who cling to traditional beliefs about the nature of marriage in the role of bigots or superstitious fools….

In the DOMA case, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas also dissented, joining, in part, the dissents of Scalia and/or Alito.

Since the days of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the federal courts have routinely imposed liberal views by legislating from the bench and seemingly basing decisions more on political preferences than law. The current Court has made some reasonable decisions, but they do not include this case, nor the legal stretches of Chief Justice Roberts in the Obamacare case, which many have written about previously.
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Alas, George Zimmerman may soon be facing unconstitutional double jeopardy. The shooting of Trayvon Martin was tragic, but the jury got the verdict right, based on the evidence presented. Attorney General Eric Holder wants to placate the radical left and the race-hustler industry by investigating Zimmerman further, although the previous investigations failed to show any racial hatred on Zimmernan’s part. But getting liberals to stir up noise and trouble over Trayvon Martin does distract from some of the embarrassing messes the administration is currently in. Here we have more of the politics of personal destruction in action.
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We are living with a U.S. government out of control. The IRS scandal, the Benghazi scandal, Fast and Furious, the Sebelius fund-raising incident, and others, testify to the corruption rampant in the administration. Further, the left is growing the government to unheard-of size (with astronomical levels of debt) and seeking to involve government in every adult decision of our citizens’ lives. Individual freedom shrinks as government grows. Every movement to the left reduces liberty. But, hey, some people are getting free stuff, and apparently won’t have to prove any need in order to get health insurance subsidies. And there’s plenty of corporate welfare – for now. The corruption of government starts with, and further corrupts, the citizenry. Of course, the mainstream media has largely abandoned journalism and reeks of unabashed leftist devotion.

The lack of greater pushback by citizens and legislators against the dictatorial direction of the federal government is discouraging and disturbing. God bless the Tea Party and those too-few courageous legislators and others who are willing to speak up and take action.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Abused Organization Leaders Speak at Hearing on IRS Scandal; Rep. McDermott Not Impressed



On June 4, several leaders of organizations that were unfairly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service testified before the House Ways and Means Committee. They told of the abusive treatment they received, invasive and illegal questions, and long delays in processing their organizations’ applications for tax-exempt status.

Video of the session is available on C-SPAN’s website. Oral statements of the organization leaders start at about 00:15:40, including an emotional and compelling statement by Becky Gerritson, president of the Wetumpka, Alabama Tea Party at 00:47:00. Note that these people represent hundreds of groups who were unfairly targeted by the IRS as they requested tax-exempt status.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, one of the committees investigating the IRS scandal. In case you missed it, he spoke at the June 4 hearing, responding to the members of these conservative groups. After these quite moving and no doubt sincere statement, McDermott made rather startling and odd remarks that included some misstatements of fact as well as seeming to expect the group members to tell him what questions the IRS should have asked them, instead of the obviously inappropriate, and in some cases criminal, questions and demands that the groups received.

While saying that the IRS made a mistake in targeting conservative groups, he as much as blamed the groups themselves for their troubles because they requested tax-exempt status.
 

I’m not terribly familiar with Mr. McDermott’s work, but here he sounds more like a McDoofus. A few observations about his statement:

1. Tax exemption is not a government subsidy.
2. Organizations with 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status are allowed to engage in political activity, provided it is not their main activity.
3. Determining the proper level of scrutiny of organizations seeking tax-exempt status is not the responsibility of the organization, but the Congress and the IRS. The IRS has standard means of determining such status, and the questions and demands made to the organizations targeted far exceeded the established norms, which properly should be applied to all organizations seeking this status, whether conservative, liberal, or whatever.
4. The IRS scandal is serious enough that “fixing the problem” must include a thorough investigation to find out precisely what happened, who ordered what, and who up the chain of authority knew about it and when.
5. What the IRS did was beyond “mistakes,” and resulted in material harm to hundreds of groups and individuals, for which the agency must be held accountable.
6. The groups represented by the witnesses did nothing wrong in applying for tax-exempt status.
7. Contrary to some excuse makers, there were not more such applications than usual during the time frame represented by this scandal.

McDermott appeared June 5 on Fox News’ “America Live with Megyn Kelly,” and rudely accused Kelly of “putting words in my mouth; stop it!” when she had merely asked him about his remarks.

After McDermott’s remarks at the hearing, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), 2012 GOP Vice-Presidential nominee, used his time to respond to McDermott’s ill-advised remarks instead of asking his planned questions:


As the many scandals of the Obama Administration continue to develop, McDermott has done nothing to help the crisis of trust in the government, and seems to exemplify the fortress mentality of Obama and his defenders. In their wisdom, America’s founding fathers warned that government cannot be trusted on the basis of good intentions, but must be restrained. Therefore, they gave us the Constitution, which, if followed, will do the job. But a determined, lawless administration will find ways to, at least temporarily, get around its wise restrictions.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

“O, What a Tangled Web We Weave…!”



IRS and Press Scandals
With the Obama Administration’s changing stories, trying to deal with past lies and cover-ups in the major scandals which now plague the Executive Branch, one must wonder what the final story will be. For Benghazi, the IRS, the AP fiasco, and the James Rosen incident, there seems to always be more depth and higher-up involvement day by day. I guess you can’t get any higher than the president where this is concerned, and it defies common sense to believe that Mr. Obama knew so little and Mr. Holder knew so little.

In 2008, Barack Obama the campaigner sounded like the man with the magical solutions to the major problems. He was going to straighten out the economy, make our enemies our friends, and generally inspire everyone, while running a very transparent administration. It wasn’t long before he claimed that the economy was in far worse shape than he’d thought, and everything he tried failed to make it better. In fact, things got worse. Between Obama and Congress, the national debt has exploded. And forget about transparency.The Middle East is in turmoil, helped along by Obama’s policies, the “Islam” part of radical Islam is never mentioned, and now the “global war on terror” is a forbidden phrase.

The Newspeak Dictionary keeps being revised, each time removing more words and phrases.

Now, instead of the man with the answers, President Obama is portraying himself as simply out of the loop, with no clue what’s going on in his own White House in regard to these scandals. Plausible deniability? He’s “outraged” by the IRS scandal “if” such things happened, things which he found out about when he read about them in the paper.

Obama, Carney, Holder, Shulman, etc. – these people are beginning to sound like Secret Agent 86, Maxwell Smart with his “Would you believe...?” routine. Trying to pass themselves off as know-nothings, but having to change their tune as facts come out to “Oh, yeah, I signed off on that,” (for example the Rosen search warrant). If Obama and Holder knew as little as they let on, what do they do all day? Sit in the office with the door closed and the phone turned off? No, I know the president goes out campaigning, golfing, and raising funds.  We’re told he wasn’t consulting with his White House counsel in real time as the IRS scandal came to light, but he may have to consult with some lawyer in his own defense as more things develop.

Holder’s situation seems more precarious, and the Attorney General in whom Obama has expressed full confidence may find himself resigning before Obama’s second term is over. Such an episode as Eric Holder saying he’d never participated in anything like going after Fox News Channel’s James Rosen, then later remembering he’d signed the search warrant naming Rosen as a possible co-conspirator in a leak from one of his sources, and then proceeded to obtain Rosen’s business and personal emails, and those of his parents. Your tax dollars at work.

Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online, writes, concerning the scandals,

The best defenses of his administration require undermining the rationale for his presidency.

“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots. It’s actually closer to us being idiots.” So far, this is the administration’s best defense.
Or, as Ben Stein at The American Spectator writes,

Well, we are supposed to believe that a massive assault by the IRS on a popular uprising called the Tea Party was known to the higher ups at the IRS, at the Justice Department, and at the White House.

But Mr. Obama, much too pure and innocent to be told about mistakes in his administration, was too busy bathing the feet of the poor and tending to lepers to be told that his administration was engaged in an Orwellian attack on free speech.
Concerning the attacks on reporters, the mainstream media finally have something negative to say about the Obama Administration, since the Feds have come after them. The Associated Press and Fox News may not be the only subjects of secret search warrants and phone record seizures. Oddly, the president thinks more laws are needed to “shield journalists,” i.e., stop him and Holder from doing further such threatening things.

Of course, we should remember Obama’s attempts to discredit the Tea Party, Romney donors, and Fox News. Could there be a connection when the IRS goes after his political opponents and Obama’s own Justice Department goes after news outlets?

Lie upon Lie: Benghazi Scandal
Press Secretary Jay Carney says that the Benghazi attack happened “a long time ago,” (wow, eight months). No, the War of 1812 happened a long time ago, as things like this are measured. Benghazi is too recent to be anything but current events in this kind of context. But Hillary said, “What difference does it make?” Thus the Administration, having no effective response to the attack, wished to file it with forgotten events and lost causes, despite promises to bring the perpetrators to justice. When do you suppose that will happen? Probably at the Last Judgment, if left to the powers that be.

As for Benghazi, the State Department and the White House took the CIA’s talking points and took them through a dozen editions (as reported by the Weekly Standard, then by ABC News, after which the mainstreamers noticed it), finally changing the truth into a lie. And sticking with that lie long after everyone knew it was a lie.

Mark Steyn commented,

As Mr. [Gregory] Hicks testified, his superiors in Washington knew early that night that a well-executed terrorist attack with the possible participation of al-Qaeda elements was under way. Instead of responding, the most powerful figures in the government decided that an unseen YouTube video better served their political needs. And, in the most revealing glimpse of the administration’s depravity, the president and secretary of state peddled the lie even in their mawkish eulogies to their buddy “Chris” and three other dead Americans. They lied to the victims’ coffins and then strolled over to lie to the bereaved, Hillary telling the Woods family that “we’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.” And she did. The government dispatched more firepower to arrest Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in Los Angeles than it did to protect its mission in Benghazi. It was such a great act of misdirection Hillary should have worn spangled tights and sawn Stevens’s casket in half.
To follow that, they silenced survivors of the attack, and punished Gregory Hicks, the Tripoli second-in-command (who became first upon the death of Ambassador Stevens). After his dramatic testimony in Congress, he was placed in a lower level desk job. Meanwhile, Victoria Nuland, who strongly influenced the editing of the talking points, has been nominated to be Assistant Secretary of State. The Administration's attitude was expressed by Hillary Clinton to Congress: “At this point, what difference does it make?”

Roger L. Simon at PJ Media reported that new whistleblowers were to come forward with shocking (if true) information about the reason Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi on 9/11. According to them, he was there to buy back Stinger missiles provided to “insurgents” by the State Department. I recommend reading the entire article. It’s quite interesting.

There’s a lot more to this story, apparently, than the government has been telling.

The Benghazi episode ought to put a stop to Hillary Clinton’s political career, but like Ted Kennedy, she may come back from a serious scandal to run for office again.

Conclusion
These scandals are not going away any time soon, and should be investigated until all the relevant facts are known and reported. Other scandals currently going on are the Fast and Furious ATF gun-running operation, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s solicitation of money for Obamacare from firms she regulates. Stay tuned.


 Photo: President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Usahitman.com via Yahoo images, source not given. Fair use, no copyright infringement intended.
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