Here’s the hard thing Republicans have to do if they don’t want this crisis to go to waste: they have to ignore their id, the temptation of the sugar high of partisan point-scoring. They must willfully set aside Obama’s presence in the fray, leaving the short term personalized attacks on the table, and go after the much bigger prize. Obama isn’t running for office again. Liberalism is. Making this about him is a short term boost to the pleasure center of the conservative brain. Making this about the inherent falsehood of the progressive project will help conservatism win.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results:
The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.
Conventional political theory holds that only the state can provide public goods such as parks, sidewalks, roads, and the like. Television commentator Rachel Maddow offered a typically exaggerated expression of this view when she visited the Hoover Dam and remarked, “When you are this close to Hoover Dam, it makes you realize how small a human is in relation to this as a human project. You can’t be the guy who builds this. You can’t even be the state that builds this. You have to be the country that builds this.” (Never mind that Hoover Dam was in fact built by a consortium of private firms headed by Bechtel-Kaiser, under precisely the sort of outsourcing/private contractor arrangement that Maddow has no time for in most other contexts — in fact, she includes a chapter in one of her books denouncing this practice.) In a sense, Maddow is correct — the Hoover Dam is an economically nonviable project from the time of its conception, and the mighty installation, visually impressive as it is, produces significantly less electricity than does a typical small nuclear power plant. Which is to say, it is a majestic boondoggle. Only politics can do that — and stay in business. And, needless to say, a “guy” attempting a project with the environmental impact of Hoover Dam would never get permission from environmental regulators, given that its construction entailed wiping out an entire local ecosystem.
So the only parts Maddow got right were the points she didn’t intend to make.
The concept that Hoover Dam was not actually built by the federal government, but was ultimately built by private companies, seemed so contrary to our usual narratives that I went and looked it up:
The Hoover Dam project was too big for any one company. So W. A. Bechtel helped form a consortium calling itself Six Companies, Inc. W. A. knew the heads of the consortium companies as friends and business associates, having been in partnerships with most of them. There was tall, lean Harry Morrison, head of Morrison-Knudsen of Boise, Idaho, and the man most directly responsible for bringing the group together; and the white-haired Wattis brothers of Utah Construction Co., the region’s foremost railroad builders. They were joined by the wry Felix Kahn of MacDonald & Kahn, a premier builder of office buildings, industrial plants, and hotels, including the Mark Hopkins in San Francisco. Phil Hart ran Pacific Bridge Co., one of the oldest construction firms on the West Coast, and was justly famous for his underwater work — a critical component in dam construction. Charlie Shea, the pugnacious, acid-tongued boss of J. F. Shea Co., was the best tunnel and sewer man west of the Rockies. And finally there was the legendary Henry Kaiser, whom W. A. had long valued for his enthusiasm and vision. W. A. Bechtel served as the second president of Six Companies; his son Steve was a member of the executive committee; and sons Warren and Ken served on the board.
Ahh, the changing face of journalism over the decades. In the 1920s, H.L. Mencken, described his vision of journalism as a fundamentally adversarial one, no matter who was in charge. “It is the prime function of a really first-rate newspaper to serve as a sort of permanent opposition in politics.”
At some point, however, that began to change, as this John McCain ad from the summer of 2008 reminds us, back when Barry seemed to totally cool and dreamy:
What wouldn’t you do for a guy like that — even if he gets a bit rough a times. He doesn’t mean it when he flies off the handle, right?
JOE SCARBOROUGH: [Reid] says he doesn’t work for Barack Obama. I think he’s wrong.
TAVIS SMILEY: Harry Reid, put down the crack pipe. You don’t work for Barack Obama? We’re all working for Barack Obama.
SCARBOROUGH: What are your thoughts? You’re going to be on Meet The Press next week, next Sunday before the inauguration. What are your thoughts as we now move closer and closer to Barack Obama being sworn in?
SMILEY: These are exciting times. When I was last year, the day after, November 5th, the day after the election, really I was excited then about what had happened and transpired the night before. As an African-american male I revel in this moment. I revel in his humanity, I revel in this victory. I love all the talk about hope and change. Here’s what I fundamentally believe, and there have been a number of examples since the election, Joe, that underscore this for me. I want Barack Obama to be a great president. I want him to be a great president. I believe that he can be a great president. But only if we help make him a great president. It is not left to his own devices, it’s not going to happen. We have to help make him a great president. And that’s not casting aspersion on him. No president who was ever great wasn’t helped in that process. There is no Abraham Lincoln without Frederick Douglas. And we could do this all day long. Every great president had people pushing them, had people helping them and encouraging them, empowering them to become great presidents. So I believe Obama can be. I want him to be. But we have to help make this guy a great president.
NBC News Senior Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss the growing AP scandal involving the Dept. of Justice secretly obtaining phone records of reporters with the Associated Press.
Myers maintained that it was unlikely that the president knew about the wire tapping because “from a political standpoint,” it would anger “one of the president’s most important constituencies, the press.” Given that, said Myers, “it’s hard to imagine they would have green-lighted this thing.”
It is beginning to dawn on America’s journalists—a group predisposed, in aggregate, to admire and vote for Barack Obama—that the president and his administration are becoming a clear and present danger to the craft they practice. The Obama Justice Department’s collection of vast phone records from the Associated Press, hot news in the past two days, has news people in a tizzy if not a fury.
They are right to be angry, if a bit hypocritical given news organizations’ widespread indifference to civil liberties breaches that don’t affect them so directly. The AP records collection—by most accounts aimed at identifying a leaker inside the government—is an escalation of the administration’s unprecedented war on leaks, a war that has made journalists a secondary but no less real target of surveillance.
Once they get over being shocked, shocked at the administration’s increasingly obvious antipathy toward what they do, American journalists will have to face up to the changed conditions in which they operate.
– “How Journalists Can Protect Themselves From the U.S. Government, at the Washington Post-owned, and JournoList-tainedSlate, yesterday.
What we have now discovered about Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s America, if we didn’t already know it, is that any belief in a benign and decent government in this country is absolute horseshit. Liberalism has been revealed as a fascist joke.
It’s every man for himself now. We are at war. Lennon and McCartney didn’t know how prescient they were when they wrote:
Been away so long I early knew the place
Gee, it’s good to be back home
Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case
Honey disconnect the phone
I’m back in the USSR
You don’t know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the US
Back in the US
Back in the USSR
Honey, disconnect the phone indeed. Wise words. Maybe that’s all we can do now, but I hope not. Maybe, just maybe, we are reaching a turning point and enough people will wake up. If they don’t now, with everything that’s going on, it’s probably over.
“Liberal Impeachment talk? It’s a Trap!,” warns blogger/radio host Peter Ingemi, aka, “DaTechGuy:”
The congress HAS to be perceived as investigating facts. If the facts continue to go where the evidence seems to be pointing the public will demand action.
A great example of the danger of moving early was Fr. Robert Drinan (D-Mass) who introduced a resolution of impeachment on the last day of July in 1973 over the Bombing of Cambodia. As [Tip O’Neill wrote in his autobiography] it almost blew the game:
politically , he damn near blew it, for if Drinan’s resolution had come up for a vote it would have been overwhelming defeated by something like 400-30. With so many members already on record as having voted once against impeachment it would have been extremely difficult to get the to change their minds later one.
meanwhile if a vote came up and failed, Republicans, who at the time were not convinced that there was any “there there” would have said when a later resolution came up:
“Why bother? We’ve already been through this.”
As Drinan refused to withdraw his resolution and all resolutions on impeachment are privileged the leadership O’Neill took extraordinary measures to make sure the resolution was not called up keeping one of the leadership ready on the floor 24/7 ready to table such a resolution. Because he didn’t want to give them the idea to move Drinan’s resolution forward. After a long time of this he finally approached Jerry Ford who told them bluntly the White House had rejected the idea. As O’Neill wrote:
By not forcing an early vote on impeachment, Nixon’s allies made a tremendous mistake. In addition to winning the vote, the Republicans could have turned impeachment into a party issue which might have allowed Nixon to remain in office and blame the Democrats for harassing him, But in the summer of 1973 the White House couldn’t imagine that Watergate would end in the downfall of the president.
And that is the trap.
“The White House and their allies will do their best to wave the red flag in the hope we charge, instead we should sit back and let this scandal and the investigation cook,” Ingemi adds. Or as a commenter at the Hot Air link to Ingemi’s post writes in response:
Better yet, develop a narrative in which conservatives/Republicans are, en masse, saying things like: “We know that many, many, many people in the president’s own party are calling for his impeachment, and we certainly understand their concern. This kind of unprecedented corruption is doing real damage to the democrat party. No one trusts them anymore. So of course the president’s own party wants him impeached and tossed out of office as quickly as possible. But we are going to wait and see where these various investigations go. Like these many, many members of the president’s own party, we expect the investigations will lead us straight up to the Obama White House, straight to the Holder Justice Department, and that we’ll learn the scope of this administration’s corruption is truly staggering. But these democrats wanting to shove Obama out of there as fast as they can need to slow down so we can truly know how deep the corruption was. That’s the best way to make sure we never get another administration like this.”
Eric Holder fumbled very badly today when he lost his cool, dropped the mask, and revealed his inner liberal fascist in response to Rep. Darrell Issa, calling him “shameful” and his conduct “unacceptable” — gee Mr. Holder, are you threatening* a Congressman? That’s rather cowardly, isn’t it? And while the inner child of most leftists isn’t far under the surface, fellow Democrat Mel Watt flipped that notion on its head, bringing his tiny grandson to the hearings. The pressure is also getting to lead Obama flack Jay Carney, who brought a goofy photo montage of himself to today’s briefing, that was almost as weirdly narcissistic as his boss’s self-absorbed antics:
JAY CARNEY FOUND! BOLO canceled. Oh, crikey. He’s standing in front of a graphic of all his faces. No laughter. twitter.com/michellemalkin…
But the nation should be allowed to see more of this. (Not to mention allowing the GOP to build a “highlight” reel of leftists gone wild in 2014, similar to the Democrat video trainwrecks of 2010.) One of the leitmotifs of a Bill Whittle video last year on how the left wrecked the country was “slowly…slowly…” Despite the urge to pounce as quickly and has hard as the anti-Nixon far left did in the early 1970s, that seems like a good way for House Republicans to ratchet up the pressure on the corrupt left in response:
“The burglary occurred in 1972, the climax came in 1974, but 40 years ago this week — May 17, 1973 — the Senate Watergate hearings began exploring the nature of Richard Nixon’s administration,” George Will writes in the Washington Post, appropriately enough:
Now the nature of Barack Obama’s administration is being clarified as revelations about IRS targeting of conservative groups merge with myriad Benghazi mendacities.
This administration aggressively hawked the fiction that the Benghazi attack was just an excessively boisterous movie review. Now we are told that a few wayward souls in Cincinnati, with nary a trace of political purpose, targeted for harassment political groups with “tea party” and “patriot” in their titles. The Post has reported that the IRS also targeted groups that “criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution .” Credit the IRS operatives with understanding who and what threatens the current regime. The Post also reports that harassing inquiries have come from other IRS offices, including Washington.
Jay Carney, whose unenviable job is not to explain but to explain away what his employers say, calls the IRS’s behavior “inappropriate.” No, using the salad fork for the entree is inappropriate. Using the Internal Revenue Service for political purposes is a criminal offense.
When there is evidence of scandalous or bizarre behavior on the part of a political figure, and no reasonable explanation is revealed within 24 to 48 hours, then the truth is probably as bad as everyone suspects.
Nobody withholds exculpatory information. Nobody who’s been accused of something wrong waits for “just the right moment” to unveil information that proves the charge baseless. Political figures never choose to deliberately let themselves twist in the wind. It’s not the instinctive psychological reaction to being falsely accused, it’s not what any public communications professional would recommend, and to use one of our president’s favorite justifications, it’s just common sense.
You and I both know, in our guts, and based upon everything we’ve seen in Washington since we started our careers, that there’s no innocent explanation for the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the Benghazi attacks.
That’s just one of three scandals Jim breaks down in his post.
Regarding another, the Obama Administration tapping the AP’s phone records, Ace of Spades’ co-blogger Drew M writes that it’s the least of the Jokers in the ever-growing Obama scandal deck (to mix playing card references)…
Keep in mind, it doesn’t appear that the AP is the subject of the investigation. What the DoJ knows is someone leaked information to the AP. The number of people who had access to that information may be relatively large but it’s not infinite. By taking the AP’s phone records and matching them to the list of people who called them with the list of people who had access to the information, you can develop a universe of potential suspects.
The AP says it’s a “roadmap” to their reporting operations. I’m more worried about people who leak a “road map” to intelligence operations.
Politically this could be a loser. People tend to not like the press and they do like catching terrorists. When people find out this is about getting to the bottom of who leaked damaging national security information to the press, I think most people we say, “go get the bastards”.
One caveat…we know this administration is power hungry and doesn’t recognize any legal or traditional limits on its powers. Might they have abused the information they gathered? Obviously. So this could turn out to be a bigger deal. But based on what we know now, it’s only a big deal because the press loves to protect themselves and their assumed privileges more than anything. Even more than they love Obama.
One of the more tense and interesting exchanges during Tuesday’s White House briefing occurred when NBC’s Chuck Todd exposed White House spokesman Jay Carney as not exactly being honest regarding a talking point involving a piece of legislation that might have protected the Associated Press from the Department of Justice seizing the phone records of 20 reporters.
Throughout the briefing, Carney kept reminding reporters that, as a United State senator, President Obama had been in favor of this “press protection” legislation, but Republicans had killed it.
Todd, who had obviously done his homework, then dropped a nuke on Carney by revealing that, in 2009 as president, Obama changed his mind and “killed” the legislation, even though at the time it likely would have easily passed through both chambers of Congress, which were then controlled by Democrats.
Carney insisted, was his claim that there were anti-video demonstrations outside the Benghazi compound on September 11 last year. Besides, he continued, Republicans are wrong to accuse the White House of “playing down an act of terror and an attack on the embassy,” because “the president himself” took to the Rose Garden on September 12 and told the country that the attack was an “act of terror.”
This was quite an astonishing thing for Carney to repeat, not just because the CBS transcript is available to anyone who cares to look it up but also because Carney himself claimed on September 14 that the attack “was a response to a YouTube video.” Worse, five days after that, he told the press:
Our belief based on the information we have is it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo, and the video and the unrest in Cairo that helped — that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi and elsewhere. What other factors were involved is a matter of investigation.
This line was repeated at least once by Hillary Clinton, many times by Susan Rice, and, on September 26, by President Obama in his speech to the United Nations. We are thus supposed to believe that the government was so concerned about “the integrity of the investigation,” to use Carney’s peculiar words, that it removed all the suspects from public discussion while simultaneously blaming the attack on a video.
Among their many claimed sins, Republicans also drew Carney’s ire for “leaking” information “for political reasons.” “That’s their prerogative,” he sniffed. But this disgust at leaks struck a false note, given that the White House had held a secret meeting just a few minutes earlier in which it passed — “for political reasons”? — unattributable information to reporters. Just a few minutes before Carney’s on-air press conference, Politico’s Dylan Byers reported:
The White House held a “deep background” briefing with reporters on Friday afternoon to discuss recent revelations about the Benghazi investigation, sources familiar with the meeting tell POLITICO. . . . I asked [White House spokesman] Earnest to explain the meaning of “deep background,” as defined by the White House, for my readers. He emails: “Deep background means that the info presented by the briefers can be used in reporting but the briefers can’t be quoted.”
Mary Eberstadt is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, and a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institute. In the 1990s, she was the executive editor of National Interest magazine, and in the mid-1980s, she worked with George P. Shultz and Jeane Kirkpatrick in the Reagan administration.
Why was belief in the Christian God and his churchly doings apparently taken for granted by most Europeans, say, six hundred years ago— whereas today merely alluding to the possibility of the existence of that same God is now guaranteed to provoke uneasy dissent in some sophisticated quarters and savage ridicule in others? How much did the Enlightenment and rationalism and scientifi c thinking have to do with this enormous transformation— this sea change from a civilization that widely fears God, to one that now often jeers him? How much did various historical infl uences fi gure into this reshaping of our shared civilization— factors like technology, the world wars, politics, church scandals, the changing social status of women, and more?
These and other large questions will be considered in the pages ahead— including, at the outset, the radical question raised by some scholars, which is whether Western Christianity has even declined in the first place.
It is the contention of this book that just about everyone working on this great puzzle has come up with some piece of the truth— and yet that one particular piece needed to hold the others together still has gone missing. Urbanization, industrialization, belief and disbelief, technology, shrinking population: yes, yes, and yes to all those factors statistically and otherwise correlated with secularization. Yet, even taking them all into account, the picture remains incomplete, as chapter 2 goes to show. It is as if the modern mind has lined up all the different pieces on the collective table, only to press them together in a way that looks whole from a distance but still leaves something critical out.
As Eberstadt goes on to write, her new book “is an attempt to supply that missing piece.” Its Amazon page adds:
The conventional wisdom is that the West first experienced religious decline, followed by the decline of the family. Eberstadt turns this standard account on its head. Marshalling an impressive array of research, from fascinating historical data on family decline in pre-Revolutionary France to contemporary popular culture both in the United States and Europe, Eberstadt shows that the reverse has also been true: the undermining of the family has further undermined Christianity itself.
During our interview, Eberstadt will discuss:
What is the relationship between spiritual decline and demographic decline?
Is religious belief suppressed in secular Europe and Blue State America?
How the rise of “New Age” spiritualism beginning in the 1960s impacted and interacted with the decline of religion in the west.
Some background on the book’s publisher, Templeton Press, founded by pioneering mutual fund manager turned philanthropist Sir John Templeton.
Could today’s ongoing economic and demographic crises help to strengthen the family?
And much more. Click here to listen:
(17:23 minutes long; 16MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this segment to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 3MB lo-fi edition.)
If the above Flash audio player is not be compatible with your browser, click on the YouTube player below, or click here to be taken directly to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip. Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.
Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.
Enemies lists, IRS audits of same, cover-ups at high levels of government, an aloof president who has others do his (unspoken?) bidding — after the events of the past week, many have been comparing the Obama administration to another one that ended almost forty years ago. And while many of the comparisons of Barack Obama to Richard Nixon are indeed apt, one doesn’t have to go that far back in history to find an even better parallel.
For those of us politically aware in the 1990s, the Obama administration has come to seem like a bad rerun of the corrupt Clinton era, complete with witness intimidation and character attacks on their political opponents, stonewalling and obfuscating while claiming that their crimes are being “politicized,” false claims of “exoneration” by official reports, and, yes, even IRS audits of their political enemies. All with a sycophantic media complicit, and even incestuous and inbred, with the White House.
For example, several days ago, when the Benghazi scandal started to climb out of the grave to which the administration and its enablers in the press thought they had consigned it last fall, the first response from the president’s spokesman was that it was something that happened a long time ago, seemingly back in the Cambrian era of late 2012. As opposed, of course, to the Bush administration, which apparently remains evergreen four and a half years after its departure, at least when it comes to assigning blame for otherwise unexplainable and “unexpected” mishappenings during this one. Of course, as PJ Media’s Ed Driscoll points out, Jay Carney’s own corruption is not exactly new-fallen snow.
In each and every case, the tactic would be to prevaricate, stonewall, and withhold requested documents for weeks, months or years. Then, when some evidence managed to evade the combined media/administration cover-up and come to light (such as Hillary Clinton’s law-firm billing records), it would suddenly become “old news.”
We’re seeing a repeat of other tactics as well.
Read the whole thing.
And then check out Jim Treacher, who notes that “The only difference between this week and every other week for the last 4 years is that for once we’re not the only ones paying attention.”
In Washington, scandals metastasize, growing and changing until we can’t remember what they were about in the beginning. A bungled burglary became a cancer on the presidency, forcing Richard Nixon to resign in disgrace. A money-losing Arkansas real estate deal led to Monica, a blue dress and Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Already, the furor over the dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys has shifted focus from the crass but essentially routine exercise of political patronage to the essential project of George W. Bush’s presidency: its deliberate and aggressive efforts to expand and protect Executive power.
If you haven’t already figured it out, click over to Moe’s blog for schadenfreude, super-sized style.
Why is the city in such a terrible financial situation? Because it spends too much and it suffers from rampant corruption:
Orr, a Washington-based turnaround expert and bankruptcy attorney, was selected by Gov. Rick Snyder to oversee Detroit’s finances. In his report, Orr described the city’s operations as “dysfunctional and wasteful after years of budgetary restrictions, mismanagement, crippling operational practices and, in some cases, indifference or corruption.”
“Outdated policies, work practices, procedures and systems must be improved consistent with best practices of 21st century government,” Orr wrote. “A well-run city will promote cost savings and better customer service and will encourage private investment and a return of residents.”
As such, we shouldn’t be surprised that Detroit has lost almost 26 percent of its population between 2000 and 2011. But don’t despair Detroit, the Light Rail is coming to you:
In January, US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a federal commitment of $25 million to the M-1 Rail project, thus tentatively setting construction to begin in the summer for the 3 mile stretch of rail between downtown and New Center. Gone will be the days when Detroit’s only rail transit is a glorified amusement park ride!
Ahh, the desire named streetcar; it’s particularly desirable, even in broke cities such as Detroit, because the potential to spread the graft around is so much more than simply buying new busses:
A transit agency that expands its bus fleet gets the support of the transit operators union. But an agency that builds a rail line gets the support of construction companies, construction unions, banks and bond dealers, railcar manufacturers, electric power companies (if the railcars are electric powered), downtown property owners, and other real estate interests. Rail may be a negative-sum game for the region as a whole, but those concentrated interests stand to gain a lot at a relatively small expense to everyone else.
It looks like Detroit could also be getting a statue of Robocop, in much the same way that similarly exhausted Philadelphia has an iconic-slash-cheesy statue of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky character. But what’s fascinating is that judging by these headlines on today’s Drudge Report, real-life Detroit actually appears in far worse shape than the dystopian projections that 1987′s Robocop depicted for the city’s 21st century future:
I just sat through NBC’s upfront presentation, which teases the new season lineup for advertisers and other assorted looky-loos, and boy, does the future not look bright for the struggling Peacock network. After clearing whole swaths of its schedule through cancellations, this could have been NBC’s chance to revitalize itself with sharp, interesting fare. But I suppose the economic realities of running a major network are such that it seemed wiser to roll out a slate of boring, predictable, almost parodic shows, none of which seem likely to do the network any good.
And speaking of National Broadcasting Karma, this also seems appropriate:
Chris Hayes is what passes at MSNBC for a progressive intellectual.
Which makes his simple-minded and manifestly mistaken proposal that much more maddening. Making a peek-a-boo video-clip appearance on today’s Melissa Harris-Perry’s show, which focused on finding solutions to poverty in America, Hayes was seen holding up a hand-written sign with his solution, reading “Giving people money: It’s actually that easy.” View the video after the jump.
Presumably then Hayes and the rest of the on-air “talent” at MSNBC are OK with this Reuters story, on advertisers giving less money to NBC, and the other TV networks:
“Advertisers have many more places to go to, so broadcasters are probably a little reticent of trying to push stronger (rates), even with this stronger economy,” Fratrik added.
Viewers’ biggest distraction is cable TV, which is churning out more hits that lure eyeballs from the Big Four. AMC’s zombie thriller “The Walking Dead” and the A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty” haul in broadcast-sized audiences. “Walking Dead” averaged 10.7 million viewers this season, more than all but the top 12 shows on broadcast TV.
Online video players such as Hulu and Google Inc’s YouTube are jockeying for ad dollars, and viewing hours are growing on Netflix, the streaming service that is making a big push into original programming with shows like political thriller “House of Cards.”
Plus, networks don’t yet get full credit in Nielsen ratings for the viewers who catch their favorite shows online.
So far this season, combined prime-time ratings on the four broadcasters declined 7.5 percent, the biggest year-over-year decline in six years, according to Nielsen data provided by Horizon Media and based on live viewing and those who record and watch the show the same day.
The pro-Israel group Z STREET filed a lawsuit against the IRS in 2010, claiming an IRS agent said the organization would come under extra scrutiny because it’s “connected to Israel.”
In addition, the IRS agent told a Z STREET representative that the applications of some of those Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”
The IRS even took the position that because Israel is a country “where terrorism happens,” the service was justified in taking additional time to determine whether Z STREET was involved with funding terrorism.
The first hearing in Z STREET v IRS is reportedly scheduled for July.
As it happens, I know something about the chilling effect of an IRS investigation into a non-profit’s 501 (c)-3 status because in 2009, COMMENTARY (a non-profit) received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service threatening the revocation of the institution’s standing as a non-profit due to a claim that on our website we had crossed the line in the 2008 election from analysis to explicit advocacy of the candidacy of John McCain for president. (Non-profits are not permitted to endorse candidates.) The charge was false—all we had done was reprint a speech delivered at a COMMENTARY event by then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman in which he had endorsed McCain.
Taking away a non-profit’s ability to receive tax-exempt charitable contributions is equivalent to a death sentence.
We were told by counsel that, should the IRS rule against us, we would have almost no recourse. You might think free speech rights would trump any such effort, but of course no one is challenging your speech rights, merely finding that what you say runs afoul of laws dealing with non-profits. You have no constitutional right to non-profit status, after all.
Disproving the false charge, which we did eventually in part by literally printing out the 2 million words that had appeared on this site in 2008 and sending them in many boxes to the IRS to show that the words in which Lieberman said he was supporting McCain were essentially a part per million, cost us tens of thousands of dollars and dozens upon dozens of hours of lost work time. The inquiry, which never should have been brought, was closed. But talking to lawyers and strategizing and the like in such a circumstance make the experience an ordeal that leaves you a bit shell-shocked—which is, of course, the point.
Now, I had assumed that a hostile reader or hostile liberal group was responsible for the IRS inquiry into COMMENTARY, but there is a salient detail in today’s story that makes me think something else might have been at work. IRS official Lerner said the effort against the conservative groups in 2012 came from “low-level” officials in the Cincinnati office. The investigation into COMMENTARY came out of the Columbus office. Is there something going on inside the IRS offices in Ohio?
Past performance is no guarantee of future results:
As President Obama, most Democrats, and most of the media proclaim it racist to enforce immigration laws, five students were sent home from school in Morgan Hill, California because they wore American flag bandannas and t-shirts, and refused to take them off or hide Old Glory. School officials considered the flag display provocative.
Northwestern University continued to stumble over diversity issues this week as Mexican students voiced disagreement with a campuswide letter that advised students not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by engaging in racially-offensive activities, such as eating tacos and drinking tequila.
In The K-12 Implosion, and also in these pages, I’ve noted that government-run public schools are facing a problem: There are more and more alternatives. It’s not so much that the public schools are getting worse, I’ve argued, as that the alternatives are getting better and more attractive.
But now I’m starting to wonder. Maybe the public schools are getting worse. At least, to judge from recent news reports, they seem to be getting crazier.
Ace has written extensively about the “the new aristocracy,” who build much of their power on the arbitrary nature of political correctness. PC can trump both law and common sense, and creates a series of bureaucratic fiefdoms, particularly in, but not limited to, the field of higher education. What is acceptable behavior in one fiefdom is anathema in other. It keeps the commoners on their toes and gives the local PC burgomeister his power.
(It’s no coincidence, as several pundits have observed, that Barack Obama’s worldview was steeped in this milieu, and he wishes that the American government operated the same way as a college campus does. In other words, in his heart of hearts, he wishes he was America’s headmaster, not its president. See also: Wilson, Woodrow.)
As with many bad ideas, it’s been a staple of socialist Europe for a century or so. It took a while for it to arrive in the US, but back in 2010 Janet Daley of the London Telegraph wrote, “American politics has caught the British disease. Under Barack Obama, the phenomenon of class resentment is a live political issue:”
What is more startling is the growth in America of precisely the sort of political alignment which we have known for many years in Britain: an electoral alliance of the educated, self-consciously (or self-deceivingly, depending on your point of view) “enlightened” class with the poor and deprived. America, in other words, has discovered bourgeois guilt. A country without a hereditary nobility has embraced noblesse oblige. Now, there is nothing inherently strange or perverse about people who lead successful, secure lives feeling a sense of responsibility toward those who are disadvantaged. What is peculiar in American terms is that this sentiment is taking on precisely the pseudo-aristocratic tone of disdain for the aspiring, struggling middle class that is such a familiar part of the British scene.
Liberal politics is now – over there as much as here – a form of social snobbery. To express concern about mass immigration, or reservations about the Obama healthcare plan, is unacceptable in bien-pensant circles because this is simply not the way educated people are supposed to think. It follows that those who do think (and talk) this way are small-minded bigots, rednecks, oiks, or whatever your local code word is for “not the right sort”.
The petit bourgeois virtues of thrift, ambition and self-reliance – which are essential for anyone attempting to escape from poverty under his own steam – have long been derided in Britain as tokens of a downmarket upbringing. But not long ago in America they were considered, even among the highly educated, to be the quintessential national virtues, because even well-off professionals had probably had parents or grandparents who were once penniless immigrants. Nobody dismissed “ambition” as a form of gaucherie: the opposite of having ambition was being a bum, a good-for-nothing who would waste the opportunities that the new country offered for self-improvement.
But now the British Lefties who – like so many Jane Austen heroines looking down on those “in trade” – used to dismiss Margaret Thatcher as “a grocer’s daughter”, have their counterparts in the US, where virtually everybody’s family started poor. Our “white van man” is their Tea Party activist, and the insult war is getting very vicious. It is becoming commonplace now for liberals in the US to label the Tea Party movement as racist, the most damaging insult of all in respectable American life.
Both England and America may have gotten it from the initial same common carrier…
…Though not to go all Hillary on you, ultimately, what difference does it make how the mental illness of PC was initially transmitted, now that it’s gone pandemic? As William F. Buckley once said, “In the hands of a skillful indoctrinator, the average student not only thinks what the indoctrinator wants him to think . . . but is altogether positive that he has arrived at his position by independent intellectual exertion. This man is outraged by the suggestion that he is the flesh-and-blood tribute to the success of his indoctrinators.”
James Taranto on “The New Nixon,” only this time around, “the press cheered as the IRS investigated the president’s opponents,” he adds:
Last year, the Post notes, “Tea Party groups complained . . . that they were receiving dozens of questionnaires from the IRS with regard to their applications for nonprofit tax status, probing their political leanings and activities.”
That prompted an editorial from the New York Times cheering on the IRS: “Taxpayers should be encouraged by complaints from Tea Party chapters applying for nonprofit tax status at being asked by the Internal Revenue Service to prove they are ‘social welfare’ organizations and not the political activists they so obviously are.” The Times did say the rules “should be applied across the board,” and the list of groups it wanted investigated included Priorities USA, a pro-Obama group, as well as a couple of conservative groups and Americans Elect, the failed third-party effort.
But the IRS now acknowledges that Tea Party people were right: The agency was investigating them because of their political profile. Viewpoint-based selective enforcement of IRS regulations would be a First Amendment violation even if the regulations themselves are constitutional. It is difficult to credit Lois Lerner’s claim that this was merely an error and not politically motivated. Imagine if the NAACP and the United Negro College Fund got hit with this sort of treatment and the IRS denied a racial motive while acknowledging it had deliberately chosen groups whose names contained synonyms for “black.”
It is the Democratic Party that’s on trial today; and to a lesser extent, America’s mainstream media. For Democrats (and especially Democratic senators) it is put-up-or-shut-up time: are they Democrats or Americans first? Obviously their first instinct was to defend the Democratic administration. Republicans would have done the same. But starting with the Hayes story on the Rice propaganda points (and the neo-Soviet process that turned them from truth to lies), and then the Issa hearing Wednesday (and a recent ABC news piece focusing again on the phonied-up talking points), no honest observer can fail to suspect this administration of doing unspeakable things. It is Congress’s duty to find out the truth.
How would Republicans act if a GOP administration were under this sort of cloud? We know exactly how. It was the radically partisan Edward Kennedy who proposed that a senate select committee investigate Watergate—but in February 1973, the Senate voted unanimously to create that committee. Republican Senator Howard Baker was vice chairman, and asked the key question: ”What did the president know and when did he know it?” Which Democratic senator will ask that question today, now that the issue isn’t breaking-and-entering but lying about four murders, including the murder of an American ambassador? Which cabinet member will be Eliot Richardson and resign rather than continuing to be part of a coverup? Will John Kerry rise to the challenge?
Update: Also at Power Line,John Hinderaker adds, “Come to think of it, this may be one more reason why Obama is so single-mindedly devoted to winning back the House in 2014: the way his administration’s scandals are multiplying, an all-Democrat Congress provides insurance against having to leave office via helicopter.”
The president’s recently formed grass-roots campaign operation revealed Thursday that it plans to attack Republicans who question radical global warming hype, dubbing them “crazy” purveyors of “far-fetched conspiracy theories.”
In a fundraising memo from President Obama’s re-election campaign manager, Organizing for Action slammed “climate deniers” and their doubts, which Jim Messina compared to the nutty things a crazy uncle would say at Thanksgiving dinner.
Nonetheless, if the planet starts heating up rapidly, and droughts are causing mass death, it’s very possible that we’ll become desperate enough to try solar management. The planet would rapidly cool a few degrees and give crops a chance to thrive again. What would it be like to live through a geoengineering project like that? “People say we’ll have white skies—blue skies will be a thing of the past,” Cascio said. Plus, solar management is only “a tourniquet,” he warned. The greater injury would still need treating. We might cut the heat, but we’d still be coping with elevated levels of carbon in our atmosphere, interacting with sunlight to raise temperatures. When the reflective particles precipitated out of the stratosphere, the planet would once again undergo rapid, intense heating. “You could make things significantly worse if you’re not pulling carbon down at the same time,” Cascio said.
While this scheme received favorable lip-service in 2009 by John Holdren, Obama’s Dr. Strangelove-esque “Science” “Czar,” even Al Gore says it’s crazy. And Al and crazy are on exceedingly good terms:
Wildfires are burning up thousands of acres in the western U.S., a fact the Obama administration points to as evidence that Washington needs to get serious about addressing global warming.
However, government data show that wildfires are at a 10-year low.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there were 13,115 fires between January 1st and May 3rd of this year, which burnt a total of 153,277 acres — about half as much as burned last year. This is lowest spring for wildfires since 2004, according to NIFC.
“Wildfire activity remains light throughout the US. Two new large fires were reported this week and one was contained,” according to the latest update from NFIC.
“People who claim that the climate is getting more severe simply have not studied the history of climate,” said Steven Goddard, a climate skeptic blogger who pointed out the data, in an email. “This year has been very cold, with record amounts of spring snow.”
Let’s just broaden the conversation out from Head Start a little bit because these cuts go all the way across everything that the federal government does. So people can have a particular problem maybe with Head Start. Maybe it doesn’t have the results they want. Anybody can find various problems with various government programs. But to take a machete to the federal budget this way is mindless.
Pretty much all of these agencies could close some programs, consolidate programs, save some money. Obama’s for that. Democrats are for that. But to just kind of say that arbitrarily everything has to be cut, what ends up happening is, look at these people on dialysis. They get rides to their kidney dialysis programs. If they don’t get there for their dialysis treatment, they can die. These rides have been dramatically cut back in some areas because of these cuts.
Multiply that by thousands of programs and different things the federal government is involved with – whether it’s small business, Head Start, or anything else – the only people spared are those who serve the powerful like airlines because Congressmen have to fly home. They don’t want the delays at the airport. So they fixed that and they left the poor and the sick to fend for themselves. And that’s immoral in the United States.
They say a species must adapt or die, and with the trend of the Internet replacing print journalism (you are reading this on the computer, after all), media folks who don’t adjust might not survive too much longer. In short, many reporters could be going the way of their typewriters soon.
Projected Decline: Reporter and correspondent positions are expected to decline by 8 percent from 51,900 jobs in 2010 to 48,000 in 2020, for a total of nearly 4,000 jobs lost, says the U.S. Department of Labor
Why It’s Dying: The Department of Labor says that because of the trend of consolidation of media companies and the decline in readership of newspapers, reporters will find there are fewer available jobs.
So, if you have a hankering for writing, you might look into…
Alternative Career: Public Relations Specialist
As Stephen Kruiser quips at the Tatler:
What amused me while reading this is that the real reason reporters are a dying breed is that they’ve already turned into public relations specialists, especially the current MSM types regarding this president. They long ago abandoned the inquisitive nature that real reporters need and now write nothing but fawning high school girl journal entries about how wonderful The Idiot King is.
When this job goes the way of the village blacksmith they’ll have no place but the mirror to look when it’s time to dole out the blame.
Just a reminder — 20 years ago, it was a Newsweek journalist who bragged on C-Span about the “Yeah, I’m In The Media, Screw You!” button she was wearing:
“My reaction to that button [`Rather Biased'] and others, in part, is a button I bought yesterday that says `Yeah, I’m In The Media, Screw You!’….I do understand why a lot of people are upset with us, why we rank somewhere between terrorists and bank robbers on the approval scale. We do criticize. That’s part of our role. Our role is not just to parrot what people say, it’s to make people think. I think that sometimes I want to say to the electorate `Grow up!’”
Meanwhile, Red Alert Politics lists “8 journalists who downplayed the Benghazi scandal.” Which again, is likely a very incomplete list, particularly given that it occurred as old media was getting ready to go all-in to get their candidate over the finish line. And while the Red Alert post lists individual journalists, there are also those institutions that downplayed the scandal.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula deserves a place in American history. He is the first person in this country jailed for violating Islamic anti-blasphemy laws.
You won’t find that anywhere in the charges against him, of course. As a practical matter, though, everyone knows that Nakoula wouldn’t be in jail today if he hadn’t produced a video crudely lampooning the prophet Muhammad.
“All of the structures that we use to run the world today— our civics, our politics, our legal systems, healthcare, education— are all structured for a world 100 or 200 years ago, not for the world of today. So we think we’re in for a lot of disruption,” says Salim Ismail, founding director of Singularity University.
“We treat technological progress as though it were a natural process, and we speak of Moore’s law — computers’ processing power doubles every two years — as though it were one of the laws of thermodynamics. But it is not an inevitable, natural process. It is the outcome of a particular social order.”
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.”
Or to put it another way, “You didn’t build that.”
(For my recent interview with Williamson, click here.)
Just now, I noted that 100,000 people have already downloaded the digital blueprints to Defense Distributed’s 3D-printable gun. This gem was among the comments on my post:
The answer is we have to ban 3D. No one really needs a third dimension. If it will save just one life, it will be well worth it. Living in a two-dimensional world is just a sensible limitation on our depth perception.
This is pretty funny but, as with most things that are pretty funny, it strikes at a real point – that being that the Second Amendment implications of limiting the printing of guns are the least of America’s worries. If previous panicked attempts to prohibit items of which the state disapproves are anything to go by, the whole Bill of Rights will eventually find its way into the crosshairs of the censors, liberty interests being subjugated as usual by ostensible “necessity.” There is simply no way of making a serious effort to prevent — not prosecute after the fact, but prevent — people from making, carrying, and transporting 3D-printed guns without going after Americans’ First Amendment right to distribute whatever blueprints they wish and without undermining in some way their Fourth Amendment right to privacy.
I’m reading K. Eric Drexler’s new book Radical Abundance, which explores the impact of atomically precise manufacturing (APM). Drexler predicts that APM will be with us soon and that it will transform the global economy in ways that can be compared to the industrial revolution of the 18th century or the advent of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. That is to say, he predicts it will be among the biggest shifts that have ever occurred.
Drexler compares the introduction of APM with the digital revolution of the past few decades, asserting that APM will essentially turn the production of physical goods into a form on information technology. Just as digital technologies made it possible to produce unlimited copies of information products (books, recorded movies, music) at essentially zero cost, APM will enable the production of physical goods at a tiny fraction of the cost of producing them today — enabling a world of radical abundance per the book’s title. This transition will not come without problems, however. Imagine the kind of disruption which has occurred in the music business over the past decade and a half applied to manufacturing, agriculture, and energy production. The elimination of infrastructure, businesses, and employment will be staggering. Drexler warns that with the introduction of APM we may face a period of “catastrophic success.”
Found via Glenn Reynolds, who would likely add, “Well, it is the 21st century, you know.”
Of course, getting old media into the 21st century may be a bit more problematic, though ABC seems to have back-ended into a rather libertarian stance regarding gun-grabbing totalitarian monsters of the past: Hitler, Lenin, what’s the difference?
(Last item via Kathy Shaidle, who links to some excellent advice here: “Don’t apologise, explain that this what a joke looks like – and then enjoy the writhings of the old order as they seem themselves so brutally wrong-footed.”)
“So if anyone wants to know what difference does it make, anyone wants to ask what difference does it make, it always matters whether or not you can trust your government. And to the families, we’re gonna find out what happened in Benghazi, and I don’t give a damn whose career is impacted. We’re going to find out what happened.”