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A Degree of Malevolence

May 15th, 2013 - 2:57 pm

The most striking characteristic emerging from accounts of the IRS audits of the administration’s political enemies is the sheer, unbridled malevolence of them. It was, like a friend told me over dinner, as if we had suddenly awoken “in the middle of the third Obama term” to find everything that could never happen, all that was said to be impossible — indeed unthinkable — suddenly upon us. I ate another mouthful of pizza before realizing that, in fact, the events now being decried had happened in his first term.

The IRS inquisitors even demanded printouts of Facebook pages, the minutes of meeting back to whenever, a detailed description of every statement, political or otherwise, under penalty of perjury.

Some of the letters asked for copies of the groups’ Web pages, blog posts and social media postings — making some tea party members worry they’d be punished for their tweets or Facebook comments by their followers…. And each letter had a stern warning about “penalties of perjury” — which became intimidating for groups that were being asked about future activities, like future donations or endorsements.

Moreover, there was a kind of capriciousness about the pattern of inquisition that defied rational explanation. One Catholic professor — an eminent but hardly a household name — was audited in 2010 by the IRS, which demanded to know what her politics were.

Someone at the IRS was even passing the content of conservative application forms to liberal NGOs.

It sounded like people were running wild, doing what they wanted because they could.

And unsurprisingly, nobody can remember nothing about nothing. Eric Holder could not for the life of him recall who might have authorized such a wide-ranging investigation into the Associated Press. The seizure of an entire news agency’s phone records seemed like a dime someone had mislaid; a trivial something that happened “a long time ago,” like Benghazi, and ‘can you remind me,, Congressman, what that was about again?’

“I’m trying to find out who authorized the subpoena,” Rep. Sensenbrenner said. “You can’t tell me if Deputy Attorney General Cole authorized the subpoena. Somebody had to authorize the subpoena because the code of federal regulations is pretty specific that this is supposed to go as close to the top as possible.”

“No, what I’m saying is that I can’t say as a matter of fact,” said Holder. “I have to assume, I say I would probably 95%, 99% certain the deputy attorney general acting in my stead was the one who authorizes the subpoena.”

A little bit later, Holder said, “Let me say this: I’ve been given a note we have confirmed that the deputy was the one who authorized the subpoena.”

What the note probably said was you have to remember that you remember.

About two chews through the slice of pizza, it occurred to me that we were witnessing the uncovering of an entire parallel network, a kind of shadow operation that ran outside the normal channels. Somehow the atmosphere made certain people feel so empowered, so unaccountable, so free of restraint it was almost as if they had ingested the fictional drug Valkyr. They were invincible, and they could fly!

“And by so doing,” I blurted out, “they’ve left the square empty. The public spaces aren’t where it happens any more. The regular meetings where things are supposed to happen are now Potemkin processes.”

That is probably the single most disturbing thing about these scandals. The Valkyr-fueled rage has undermined the political mechanisms and trashed the processes through which persons of disparate political persuasions of the nation are supposed to come to an understanding.  America is a diverse place — and not necessarily diverse in the way some people insist on regarding it — and it works only when no one goes around intimidating people from the shadows.

Sarah Hoyt has an emotionally telling post exhorting everyone to “get off the floor” and fight for their rights. Look who she invokes.  Its a cry from the heart, and one never thought to hear it in these terms.

Get up off the floor. First, if you’re a believer, despair is a sin. And if you’re not a believer, despair is spitting on the graves of all the men and women who fought in much worse conditions than you face. The ghosts of Tiananmen Square rise up against you. The men who in the Gulags carried a hope of freedom accuse you. The victims of communism point fingers at you. The millions of dead at the hands of marching statism would like to remind you that to give up is to die. And that’s when you should give up. Not a second earlier.

Tiananmen Square? The Gulag? Can things be so bad that such parallels can be invoked in America? Perhaps the worst trespass  has been the violence to trust; such that one can’t dismiss Sarah Hoyt’s metaphors out of hand. After what’s happened, when the unthinkable has occurred then how do you laugh it off?

The task then is to make the unthinkable impossible again; to restore the belief that bad things won’t come in night. For in the end everyone has his turn at power; every party has its time in office.  Robert Bolt put the argument succinctly in A Man for all Seasons, when Thomas More explained why he would not trash the law. The law is all we have to keep us off each other’s throats. Destroy the law and all the bets are off.

Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

And that really sums it up.  The challenge to resolving the scandals is not simply to leave someone holding the bag; to pin it on somebody and return to the same old bad behavior — but to convince everyone — both from the Left and the Right — that these things will never reoccur, that the remainder of second term will be different from the first, and that a third term, will all it implies, can never ever come.


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

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Top Rated Comments   
Tiananmen Square? The Gulag? Can things be so bad that such parallels can be invoked in America?

The time is ten times overpast. People are loath to look at reality, if reality no longer matches the comfortable illusions that we grew up with. But the reality is that the comfortable world we grew up with; a rule of law, a government subservient to the people, a world where your life was determined by your own efforts and not your political connections is gone. The American age of Liberty under a Constitutional Republic is an anomaly in human history. The bulk of mankind’s lot, regardless of race or culture, has been tyranny, poverty, and hopelessness. And for the vast majority of humans living during that American age, their lives have been typical of the span of human history. There is a tremendous amount of inertia driving mankind to the old ways, and the power of our culture to resist has been sapped from within.

Today, no thinking person can rationally claim that we live under a rule of law in America. Your status and what your fate is given the same acts, is determined by connections, race, and politically correct status [or lack thereof].

The bulk of the American people are barred the protections of the Constitution, which seem to be reserved only for those who are dedicated to destroying the country.

The three equal branches of government no longer exist. We have not had a constitutional budget for 5 years and the government is financing itself by taxation and creation of money out of thin air.

The courts no longer deliver either law or justice, and no longer are expected to by rational observers. If either happens, it is an occasion for surprise.

The electoral system has been corrupted. We have two parties in theory, which are in reality just two wings of “The Party of Government” and both are devoted to the centralization of power in their own hands. No candidate who is not of that party can be nominated. And the Democrats have made the process of voting moot, with turnouts of 100%+ in areas they control. It is now common to have more registered voters than people of voting age in districts.

In the last week, we have seen insults to the body politic coming fast and furious; much more quickly than the system can respond to at its best with an active political Opposition. And we don’t have an active, organized political Opposition. The forces of collectivist totalitarianism are inside America’s OODA loop so long as we remain committed solely to conventional politics.

The insults are neither random, nor unplanned. What we are facing is nothing less than a coup d’ etat.

The Executive is admitting that the forces of the coercive organs of the State have been, are now, and by implication will continue to be used to attack any political opposition, regardless of the law. And the IRS, which for now is the lead organ in the attacks, is about to take over the health care system for all Americans, whether they want it or not.

The IRS was ordered by the House Ways and Means Committee to produce all communications it had referring to the TEA Party, Patriots, and other key words they admit using to target groups for attacks. The deadline was Wednesday May 15. It is now the 16th, and as far as I have heard the communications have not been produced and the IRS has refused to indicate if they will ever produce them. That is direct defiance and cannot take place without the approval of the White House.

Similarly, it has been revealed that not only did the Attorney General’s office secretly collect all the phone records of Associated Press for a two month period, but also the items collected included calls to and from the House of Representatives’ Cloakroom inside the Capitol Building. When questioned today, the Attorney General claimed that it was for an immediate terrorist threat. Which he could not detail, and for which he had NOT signed the authorization required by law. And the White House claimed not to have any knowledge of such threat. The end result is that the Executive has established the precedent that they can spy on the House of Representatives.

When the Executive of any country is unrestrained by Constitution, Law, the Legislative, or the Judicial branches, and feels free to do anything to the citizenry at will; the Gulag is very rightly a subject of discussion.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Even as we lament these sad tidings, the administration has demanded the resignation of the acting IRS Commissioner, Steven Miller. Since Miller has been the acting commissioner for almost five months now, he is most certainly the man to blame for this three year long perversion of justice.

If nothing else, Steven Miller uncovered these crimes and we all know that no good deed should go unpunished.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Even if the country cleans up the damage the O administration has wreaked upon the fabric of this nation, it will be very difficult to reestablish the trust in basic institutions. And that is the worst crime of all of O's activities: The poisoning of American institutions. Therein lies the real crime.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (130)
All Comments   (130)
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Chicago, D.C.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Release the Kraken!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Passions are flowing, and events have raised the heat into the serious category. Will it go critical? Rumblings on the right swing toward substantive action. Such as a taxpayer revolt determined to not pay the IRS one more thin dime. If such a thing metastasizes, I'm on board all the way. Why pay a demon who's set to bugger us?

Today the Obama White House tweeted on the official feed describing ObamaCare "in three words". They said, "It's.(sic).The.Law";. Well, DOMA's the law, too. And the law also states that foreigners can't be in this country without permission. And it states a million other things which go completely ignored by this administration.

So, what is meant by law? Law means nothing unless it has the assent of the governed.

Do you assent to the IRS? Do you? Did anyone?

Do you assent to ObamaCare? Did anyone?

The time for action is ripening.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I concur. Tax Revolt. Massive and Coordinated. There is strength in solidarity and numbers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What in the hell happened to the formatting of my post above? I made no attempt to include HTML elements (I _never_ do). Gah, disgusting.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So our comments represent hyperbole that is unreasonable and needlessly provocative?

On the other side, failure to support formalized Gay Marriage is denounced as genocide.

Suggesting that unmarried woman ought not to get knocked up brings comparisons with what Nazi Germany did to the Jews.

Prosecution of men killing the children of those same women is denounced as racism. Hell, everything is denounced as racism.

The Abu Grabe scandal, perpetrated by truly low level rogue (and mainly female) people brought calls for not only removal of the SECDEF but impeachment of the President.

Plays and movies were not only penned but brought to the stage and theater on the killing on Pres G.W. Bush.

And I could go on and on at great length.

We have not yet began to fight.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

You have also not seen the end of this.

America is not what it used to be -- a center-right country looking at Europe. That lady near New York looks in the wrong direction. A New America is being born as American demography shifts ever leftward by millions of New Americans arriving from Africa, Latin America and the Indian Ocean area.

This massive level of immigration redefines what it means to be American and it moves the center of in American politics. That cuurent immigration reform bill is going cement leftwing control, permanently -- for who can be against immigration if that policy leads to electoral defeat because of current demography?

President Obama is but the first of a line of leftwing presidents, elected by the new demography in a mosaic of third world peoples now settling America, and redefining her as from the Third world. What will motivate these New Americans is Africa and Latin America, and leftwing politics, and they will elect leftwing politicians to run America.

America, once so Eurocentric, has changed to become a very different entity. Many of her older citizens still live in the illusion that they think they know what America is, but it is really what she was.

The Left has triumphed, and there is no going back to days when America was basically an extension of Europe. Besides, Europe has been consigned to the trash-heap of history by the choices of Europeans themselves -- they will be transformed by the migration they invited as surely as America is being transformed by the immigration she sought from the Third World.

It always matters who is present, and who is not present by not being born.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The last half of the 20th century was nearly equally divided among the two parties with an overall ranking of center right legislatively and demographically. The beginnings of the 21st century are again equally divided bewtween the two parties but something significant happend in 2010. The 'center' of the congress (both parties) was taken out by the ill concieved tea party strategies. This leaves the potential for some stark vulnerabilities that I'm betting most will come to regret going forward.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Once the Rule of Law has been lost can we ever get it back? The NAACP President stated that the IRS should be targetting the "self-admitted racists" of the Tea Party. Are the Republicans such saints that they will be able to resist the temptation to do the same to ACORN, Occupy Wall Street, or Organize for America?

Obama's singular most significant achievement has been to lower the moral bar in America. Reagan's "shining city on the hill" has been transformed into a Chicago slum. Can we ever get it back?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Are the Republicans such saints that they will be able to resist the temptation to do the same to ACORN, Occupy Wall Street, or Organize for America?"

Saints? Oh, buggerall no! Cowards and collaborators? Absolutely! They will not dream of either retaliating, or punishing the guilty if they get back into power. And when the Left takes over again, illegally or legally, they will make sure with extreme prejudice that they never lose again.

The old conception of legitimate government is gone.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The old conception of legitimate government is gone."

That has been the populist mantra (nearly verbatim) for nearly ever generation since the beginning of our nation and the founding fathers. There has been constant opposition and conflict within and outside the government -- stark differences in forming the constitution, secession, slavery, taxes, labor unions, progressives, libertarians, socialists, communists, foreign relations, commerce, foreign trade and on down the long pike of issues before ever reaching the mid 20th century. You think the government and laws are repressive now, you should have lived in the 18th and 19th centuries when federal, states and local laws cause laughter when read by todays generations. Every generations political activists have predicted nothing but gloom and the fall of America all while methodically risinng up from one disaster to another, to become the worlds greatest economic and military power. Few of those generational doom and gloom activists are ever recorded muchless ever remembered.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Get it back? Nope. The demographic turnover of the USA is a permanent event -- you cannot reverse it, as little as you can salvage what little remains of her (former, now almost extinct) WASP and puritan culture...

Protestant countries were the wealthiest and most powerful states on earth, and even today formerly Protestant countries coast on past glory.

The end of a Protestant culture also means the end of wealth and power (and good government). It is game over already, and you do not even know it. In the end, culture is the most important of qualities, and in America, it has been hollowed out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bingo. A nation is it's people. When Sweden is full of Muslims and Africans, it will be remade in their image. A Third World shithole.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Speaking as someone who has relatives employed in the belly of the Federal Beast, I can assure you that the idea that low level "rogue" employees in the Fed government targeting conservative groups without direction from above is ridiculous.

Direction comes from DC and DC alone, and rolls downhill to the locals. The senior executive service types follow that direction to the letter if they value their careers and bonuses. Woe betide the low level peon who objects! The local grunts are being sacrificed to protect the connected folks in DC. Maybe they followed orders with a smile on their faces, maybe not. But I can guarantee you that they did not originate this witch hunt.

I am beyond disgust at this point.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Anyone remember Craig Livingstone? He was the "low level rogue employee" brought into the Clinton White House and who ordered the FBI files of a great many Clinton rivals and opponents to be sent over for perusal.

He eventallly the rude impact of a doorknob on his dierrie, but no one ever answered the question of who told him to go get those files. In fact, we never even found out who it was that hired him. The Clintons stonewalled on those questions and eventually won that staring match. Of course it was another case of the fact that the answer could not be supplied that really told us what the answer was.

That cannot be allowed to occur this time. Jail time should be just the start of the investigatory process.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“IRS Official in Charge During Tea Party Targeting Now Runs Health Care Office” – Drudge

Is that great? The persons who denied you tax status can deny you lifesaving medicine. ObamaCare is the final solution for conservatism and political opposition. Put an “R” next to your name and die. They don’t need concentration camps. They got everything they need to round you up and kill you with that. The alternative is to keep your nose clean and if you cannot join the political elites in the DMV just work hard, report your neighbors activities, and be a good tax-slave.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Or as Robert Mugabe put it.

Vote ZANU-PF...and live.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
These issues have made two things crystal clear for me:

1) The vast majority of the left (more than 90% I'm guessing) have no problem with the IRS suppressing their political enemies. Which means that they intend to never be out of power again.

2) Whomever said that this is the acid test of whether we retain any vestigial remnants of a civil society and the use of politics to change things was dead on (that's a bad paraphrase). And given the meekness of the loyal opposition once again, I think I know how this question will be answered.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"'And by so doing,' I blurted out, 'they’ve left the square empty. The public spaces aren’t where it happens any more. The regular meetings where things are supposed to happen are now Potemkin processes.'”

Henry Kissinger, in "White House Years" commented in passing on this subject -- basically the effect of public disclosure laws such as FOIA, and similar things such as Open Meetings Acts, and the spread of (then advanced) copiers and word processing was going to make things difficult on historians: there was going to be a surfeit of paper information of really very little value, because it had all been generated to paper the files and document, but only in ways acceptable to the bureaucracies and decision makers. Real decisions would not appear in the documents.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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