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Huma Nature

Of all the weird things about Anthony Weiner’s scandal-plagued run for mayor of New York City, and there are many of them, perhaps the weirdest is the adulation that has been heaped upon his wife.
Some sympathy for a wronged woman is understandable, even if such chivalry is in short supply when conservative women are being slandered by political opponents and foul-mouthed comedians, and any man with a cheating spouse will be ridiculed as a cuckold, but the kind words for Huma Abedin have gone far beyond supportive. Mika Brzezinski at MSBNC tweeted a paean to Abedin’s bravery, Slate magazine wrote of her dignity, and countless commentators tried to outdo one another in praising the extraordinary intelligence of a woman who married a high-tech flasher and national punch line. Perhaps the most worshipful Abedin coverage of all came from New York magazine, where Mark Jacobson wrote that “It was quite possible that she was the most cosmopolitan human being on Earth” and gushed that “Her brown eyes were pools of empathy evolved through a thousand generations of what was good and decent in the history of the human race.”
Aside from the obviously overblown writing, the likes of which has not been since Barack Obama’s first campaign for the presidency, this hyperbole requires a willful ignorance of some basic facts. One need go only one generation in Abedin’s lineage to find some far less than good and decent. Abedin’s father was a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization whose motto declares that “jihad is our way, dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope,” and was a longtime editor of its al Qaeda-financed Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Abedin’s mother was also a prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, a remarkable feat given the organizations medieval misogyny, and assumed control of the JMMA after her husband death’s as well as running an organization called the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child which was tied to a designated terrorist group calling itself Union for Good.
Lest one think that we are visiting the sins of the father upon the daughter, to paraphrase another religion, Huma Abedin was an executive editor of the JMMA at the same she served as an intern in the Clinton White House — insert your own intern in the Clinton White House joke here — and was an executive board member of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Muslim Students Association while a student at George Washington University.
This resume didn’t keep Abedin from obtaining the necessary security to become an assistant to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with whom she had a famously close relationship, and although it might be entirely coincidental the State Department became ever more accomodationist with the Muslim Brotherhood. The same president that has lately banned College Republicans from his speeches insisted that the Brotherhood be present for his much-hyped oration in Cairo, the organization was effectively ushered into power briefly after Obama insisted that the generally pro-American former dictator Hosni Mubarak resign from office, and Clinton personally intervened to reverse a Bush-era rule prohibiting the Muslim Brotherhood founder’s grandson from entering the country, among other Brotherhood-friendly moves by the administration.
All of which is considered impolite to mention by the pundits who are going on at such length about Abedin’s beauty, bravery, brains, and all-around awesomeness. Aside from the assumed Islamophobia of such quibbles, there’s also Abedin’s famously close relationship with Clinton to consider, after all. Still, we thought it worth mentioning.

— Bud Norman

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Hooked on Phoniness

Back when the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of “tea party” and other conservative groups was said to be the work of a few rogue agents in the far-flung outpost of Cincinnati, President Barack Obama said that he was “angry” about the “inexcusable” misconduct and that “Americans are right to be angry about it.” Now that a high-level IRS employee has given testimony that brings the matter as high up as the presidentially-appointed chief counsel’s office, the official administration line is that it’s just another “phony scandal.”
The White House press secretary introduced the phrase a few times before Obama himself took it up in a speech about the economy, suggesting that anyone who cares about the IRS’ harassment of his political enemies simply doesn’t care about the unemployed, and now Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is gamely using the slogan. In an enjoyably confrontational Sunday morning interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, which demonstrates why the administration hates that network with such a white-hot intensity, Lew stubbornly insisted that both right-wing and left-wing groups had been treated with equal “very bad judgment,” that those responsible have been removed and the need reforms instituted, and that “There’s no evidence of any political decision maker who was involved in any of those decisions.”
Wallace was admirably feisty with his follow-up questions, but time constraints apparently prevented him from noting that an Inspector General’s investigation finds that conservative groups were subjected to “very bad judgment” by the IRS far more frequently than their liberal counterparts, that the only people removed from the agency were an agency head set to retire anyway and a Fifth Amendment-pleading director of the exempt organizations division who continues to draw her sizeable paychecks. Nor was he able to ask exactly what reforms have been instituted, or why they should be any more successful than the rules already in place to prevent such abuses. Having already noted the sworn testimony by a highly-placed veteran agent that puts the scandal in the chief counsel’s office, but without noting the chief counsel’s intriguingly timed meeting at the White House just two days before a directive was issued on how to handle “tea party” applications, Wallace asked about the investigations that Lew insisted had found no evidence of political motive.
In the same speech that included his “anger” about the “inexcusable” IRS scandal the president also said he had personally directed to Lew get to the bottom of the matter, so Wallace naturally wondered if Lew’s dogged digging had included asking the chief counsel about his involvement. Following some hemming and hawing, Lew eventually conceded that he had not because “I am leaving the investigation to the proper people who do investigations, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to do the investigation.” So the person that the president picked to investigate the matter doesn’t think he should be investigating it, but he does assure the public that he and his department will cooperate with all other investigations, although so far his department has only provided less than a percent of the documents that the Senate investigating committee has requested.
Somehow it all sounds, well, phony.

— Bud Norman

How to Handle a Woman

New York City’s municipal election isn’t the only naughty sex comedy on the political stage. Out in San Diego the mayor seems determined to demonstrate that the politicians on west coast can be just as tawdry as those back east.
Mayor Bob Filner has made comments to countless women that are so far beyond even contemporary standards of public decorum that feminists such as attorney Gloria Allred are calling for his resignation, which takes some doing some considering that Filner is a Democrat. Anthony Weiner, who resigned from his congressional seat after lewd photos of himself that he had sent to various surfaced and is now being pressed to resign from New York City’s mayoral race because he kept sending even lewder photos after his resignation, and Elliott Spitzer, who was forced to resign from New York’s governorship because of his penchant for prostitutes but somehow still leads in the race for New York City comptroller, are also Democrats.
We mention these men’s party affiliation not because Republicans would never engage in such crude behavior, but rather because it is always so prominently mentioned in media reports when they do. Weiner’s unfortunate name and the high office he seeks have combined to force more media coverage that his deeds would ordinarily merit, but Spitzer’s whore-mongering past has gone largely unremarked, and there’s a suspicion that Filner’s misdeeds have been getting attention because San Diego is one of the last bastions of California Republicanism, but in none of these cases have the media been quite so gleefully outraged as they surely would be if it they were all in on a Grand Old Party. There’s certainly been no attempt to tie the scandals together into proof of some party-wide pathology, which would surely be the case if they were Republicans.
Several journalists of our acquaintance freely admit the double standard but contend that it is proper, explaining that Republicans deserve the extra scrutiny and scorn because their party presents itself as the defenders of old-fashioned “family values.” Why the Democrats should enjoy a get-out-of-scandal card because they don’t even pretend to have any standards of personal behavior is never made clear, but in any case the argument has long outlived any truth it might have. Republicans rarely push the “family values” slogan these days, being more concerned with keeping the country from insolvency and other economic concerns, while the Democrats consistently accuse their opponents of misogyny and tout themselves as the defenders of womanhood.
Such hypocrisy is more galling than that of the misbehaving Republicans. the most Bible-thumping politician who gets caught with his pants down isn’t trying to make religion compulsory, but the silly sensitivity-training workshops that the average private sector worker endures and the civil liability laws that inspired them have been imposed by the Democratic party with the force of government. These laws and the new rules of sexless behavior have done some good, and the officious way they are often enforced has done some harm, but certainly the political that is responsible should be held to the same rules.
Those rules were dispensed with entirely for the benefit of Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and assorted other sexual miscreants whose stands on behalf of women’s rights were said to justify their behavior, so the occasional Democratic criticisms of Filner, Weiner, and Spitzer represent a welcome development. More pushback will be needed, though, if the Democrats want to revive their campaign theme of Republican “war on women” without looking ridiculous.

— Bud Norman

The Times They are a-Changin’

Way back in our boyhood, during the hippie days, a certain sort of college student was considered a threat to the public safety. Idealistic youngsters such as the Weather Underground were building bombs, fomenting riots, and sneering at the squares in the College Republicans.
Much has changed since then. Now Weather Underground leader Bill Ayres is a respected member of the academic community who hosted the political debutante party for a future president, and the College Republicans are banned from that same president’s speeches as a “security threat.”
This is true at least at the University of Central Missouri, where on Wednesday a group of students affiliated with the campus chapter of the College Republicans were denied admission to another in a seemingly endless series of presidential speeches. The students held tickets to the event, and had waited patiently for two hours outside the auditorium, and the day’s intense heat had knocked enough students out of the heat that there was no question of having enough seats, but they were nonetheless turned away on the grounds that posed a danger to the president. Although they had all stowed away the picket signs they had wielded in an earlier protest, and presumably had passed the rigorous security checks that a routine at all presidential appearances, a few of the students’ tee-shirts emblazoned with conservative slogans marked them as likely troublemakers or potential assassins. “It just didn’t make sense,” a group leader told the College Fix web site, “A lot of us traveled several hours to watch the speech. We were very disappointed we were not able to attend.”
The young man’s disappointment is hard to explain, especially if the speech was anywhere near so boring as the long-winded soporific Obama delivered earlier to an adoring group of students at Illinois’ Knox College, but there’s no accounting for a college kid’s taste. Even harder to explain is why Obama’s security detail considered the group threatening, given the College Republicans’ longstanding reputation for unfashionably proper behavior. College Republicans don’t even heckle or hiss at a speech, tactics associated exclusively with the campus left, and it should be noted that none of the many assassins in the country’s history were ever members of the group. So placid is the group that if any of Obama’s old Weather Underground buddies ever got wind that he was fearful of a bunch of tee-shirt clad College Republicans they’d probably snort a derisive laugh.
Perhaps the words “Tea Party” appearing on those tee-shirts explains the ban, as any identifying with the phrase is presumed by the administration to be a terrorist at worst or a tax-cheat at best, but despite the best efforts of the press there has never been any act of violence associated with the movement. Students with “Occupy Wall Street” slogans adorned on the clothing were almost certainly sent through security without a second glance, even though that movement has spawned violence and alleged plots of terrorism with all the hipster enthusiasm of its Weather Underground ancestors, so some sort of political profiling seems to be involved.
More indignant observers such as Prof. Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds have urged that the students sue anyone involved, and agitate to prevent Obama from making his beloved campus appearances until the rules of admission are made fair, but we suggest that the College Republicans enjoy their newfound bad boy status. College chicks dig danger, as all those old-school campus agitators happily discovered, and there’s no reason that the scruffy Occupy kids should be having all the fun. Besides, there will be plenty of chances to hear long, boring Obama speeches in the future.

— Bud Norman

Yet Another Speech

President Barack Obama gave yet another “major address” on Wednesday, this time about the economy, but it wasn’t like the good old days. We’re wizened enough to recall a time when every Obama oration was treated as a stop-the-presses event, whether it was major or not, but this time is barely rated a mention.
Obama’s speech at Illinois’ Knox College came in at a Castro-esque one hour and six minutes long, but the hourly updates on the radio gave it only a few seconds. The more high-minded media outlets gave it the dutiful respect of more than a minute of air-time or just enough column inches to necessitate a jump to the inner pages, and the right-wing ranters on talk radio had a few indignant comments, but it wasn’t enough to knock the naming of the new royal baby off the top of the news budget. Even the votes in Congress to continue the National Security Agency’s spying on average Americans and to slow the increase in student loan interest rates were considered livelier topics.
Being both unaccountably curious and almost insanely stout we managed to slog our way through a transcript of the entire speech, and although we concede the possibility that it somehow sounded better in Obama’s sonorous baritone we must say that it was just awful. Not only was it badly written, with an abundance of mixed metaphors and clichés and faux-folksiness and talk of the damage done by meat cleavers left in place, it was also chockfull of half-truths and full-blown untruths and a down-right demagogic dismissal of any disagreement. Mostly is was the same old class-warfare rhetoric that Obama has been peddling his entire political career, as if income inequality were the only flaw in an otherwise flawlessly functioning economy, and a handful of policy proposals that would only make things worse.
Obama starts the hour-long monologue by noting a speech he had given at the college shortly before being elected to the Senate, as if 2005 were so long ago, and admitting that he gave basically the same speech then. After a hackneyed history of the middle class descent into destitution that preceded him, Obama then offered a surprisingly upbeat assessment of the current economy. He touted the stock market’s climb to new highs, as if it weren’t a Fed-fueled bubble, cited the massive new regulations of the financial industry, as if they had done anything but make finance more expensive, touted the boom in fossil fuel production, as if it weren’t occurring on privates lands despite his best efforts to impose higher energy costs on the country, bragged about the revival of the auto industry, as if Detroit had not recently declared bankruptcy, and boasted of doubling wind and solar energy, as if that highly subsidized and ultimately inconsequential increase weren’t the reason that he’s been trying to increase the cost of fossil fuels. He even boasted of deficit reduction, as if the national debt had not increased by nearly seven trillion dollars on his watch.
If there is anything amiss in the economy, say a sluggish growth rate or persistently high level of unemployment and even higher levels of unemployment, Obama places the blame solely on the Republicans that have apparently been running the government unimpeded for the past five years. He’s revived the old argument that all the country’s calamities are a result of “sequester” budget cuts, as if his office did come up with the idea in the first place, and insists that any further decreases in spending must be done with a scalpel rather than that meat cleaver the Republicans have left in place. Of course there was nothing in speech to suggest where that scalpel should cut, just as every Obama has proposed spending increases rather than cuts to anything but national defense, and there were plenty of calls for more and more government.
He called for an increase in the minimum wage, as if high unemployment is a result of too-cheap labor costs, and for immigration reform that would flood the low-skilled labor market with tens of millions of new job-seekers, as if that’s going to alleviate unemployment, and the usual demand for more revenues, as if a healthy tax-hike is just the elixir required for an ailing economy. The rest of it was more lamenting the fact that some people do better in life than others, and although he offered no specific remedies for this injustice the implication seemed to be some people simply shouldn’t be allowed to prosper so much. How this will spur economic growth remained unexplained, but it seems to involve tax hikes.
Perhaps the press paid such scant attention because Obama has promised a series of similar speeches around the country, and they want to dole out his eloquence in measured portions. After months of speculation that various issues have been ginned-up to distract attention from the sorry state of the economy, there is now speculation that Obama has once again “pivoted” to the economy to distract attention from various controversies that have swirled about the White House lately. Obama dismissed these issues as “phony scandals,” as if any concern about the fatal mishaps and cynical lies that were the Benghazi scandal, or the Internal Revenue Services harassment of the president’s political enemies, or the criminalization of investigative reporting, or that congressionally-approved NSA spying on average Americans are of no consequence.
Those things are important, in our view, but so is the president’s stubborn insistence on the same policies that have made this the slowest and weakest economic recovery in the nation’s history.

— Bud Norman

You May Already Be a Weiner

There are more important things going on in the world, especially if you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere other than New York City, but there’s simply no resisting the temptation to write about a sex scandal involving someone named Anthony Weiner. All the good double entendres have been used by this point, but Weiner is such an absurd fellow that that we feel obliged to add a few more snickers to the ridicule that is once again being heaped on him.
As even the most determinedly apolitical people already know, Weiner is the former New York congressman who was forced to resign from office after it was revealed that he had been sending lewd photographs of underwear-clad nether regions to various young women. Modern American society being what it is Weiner was widely forgiven and quickly forgotten after offering a profuse public apology and a promise to refrain from such behavior in the future, and modern New York City society being what it is Weiner decided to run for mayor. So forgiving and forgetful is the city that Weiner was actually leading in all the polls on Tuesday, but the Big Apple’s patience might finally be running after revelations of even more lewd photos and salacious messages sent long after Weiner’s public apologies and promises.
Weiner was joined at a hastily arranged press conference by his semi-famous-in-her-own-right wife, a former aide to Hillary Clinton whose patience for male misbehavior is apparently as boundless as her past employer’s, but his renewed apologies and promises ran into predictable difficulties. The brilliant Mark Steyn dropped in on the conference, and quotes Weiner saying “This was something in front of us that we knew might come up” and “I’m not going to get into a back and forth,” both of which surely had the assembled press corps chuckling even more than they do at the mention of Weiner’s name. A New York politician can apparently be seen as a pervert without suffering any political harm, but even in the big city it is hard to overcome being seen as ridiculous.
There aren’t many old-fashioned prudes left in New York City, but there are plenty of newfangled ones who object to Weiner’s behavior on feminist and other fashionable grounds. The New York Times quotes the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, which seems to still exist there, as declaring that Weiner is “clearly and compellingly unfit for office.” Even by the degraded standards of our national politics taking pictures of one’s private parts and sharing them with strangers is odd behavior, and even the most dedicated Democrats who are inclined to overlook it will be reluctant to give up the right to look down on the next Republican caught up in some more understandable sex scandal. Moral and political considerations aside, there’s also something unsettlingly narcissistic about Weiner’s hobby that suggests he’d be a troublesome mayor.
The current mayor has established a precedent that the office carries the power to dictate all sorts of the citizenry’s behavior, from how much salt a diner can put on his French fries to the size of his soda pop, so surely the citizenry can expect better behavior of a mayor. There are many reasons that Weiner shouldn’t hold a position of public responsibility, most having to do with his bossy brand of liberalism, but his strange hobby should be enough to convince even a New Yorker.

— Bud Norman

A Royal Pain

The big story Monday was the birth of a boy somewhere in Great Britain, although it’s not quite clear to us why anyone outside the immediate family should consider it such a momentous event. The immediate family is the Royal Family, which apparently explains the widespread media attention, but it’s still not clear why so many people are still so fascinated with royalty.
Here in the good ol’ United States of America we supposedly dispensed with such antiquated nonsense way back in 1776, at least as a legal matter, but the seemingly innate human yearning for a ruling class has never been vanquished. This peculiar tendency is by no means an exclusively Anglo-American phenomenon, but seems to persist in every corner of the world. As recently as 1945 the Japanese people were willing to endure further atomic bombings rather than relinquish their Emperor, whose heir still sits on the Chrysanthemum Throne, and kings and queens still hold court in various other Asian lands. Several Middle Eastern countries are absolute monarchies, and in other countries where the governments seem up for grabs there is always talk of hunting down some surviving heir to the last king and restoring him to a throne. Whenever Afro-centric scholars extol the glories of pre-colonial Africa they invariably boast of the kings and queens that ruled there. Europe, despite its reputation as the cutting-edge of modernity, remains rotten with kings and queens.
This longing for royalty is at least as old as the Old Testament, where the First Book of Samuel tells how the people of ancient Israel clamored for God to “make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” Samuel discussed the matter with God, who discouraged the idea. According to the scripture, God warned that “This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties, and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your olive yards, and even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.”
Such a prescient description of the subsequent several millennia of human governance gives an eerie verisimilitude to the whole Bible, as far as we’re concerned, and serves as a reminder of how much trouble people are willing to put up with in order to have a king. Mindful of Samuel’s cautionary history, the great theologian C.S. Lewis made the strongest argument for retaining Britain’s monarchy by noting that people are going to have a king no matter what and that it might as well be someone who symbolically embodies a national identity rather than the movie actors and pop music performers and unabashed hucksters that the public will elevate to royalty. The point is well proved by the tawdry cast of empty-headed celebrities that contemporary American culture regards as royalty, and is even more depressingly illustrated by the deference so many have to intellectual-political class.
To say that President Barack Obama lives like a king understates the matter by many millions of dollars, given the difference in the government’s funding for his lavish lifestyle compared to what the British and other European people are willing to shell out for their royalty, and still too many of his supporters regard his every pronouncement with the same awe-struck reverence as the most simple commoner of the pre-Magna Carta era. There isn’t so much of the Obama-as-Messiah talk that was common before he took office, but there’s enough of it left that much of the country seems willing to accept whatever devilry he might do without question.
Better, then, to fawn over the bundle of joy that was born in Great Britain on Monday. We wish the little fellow much happiness and prosperity, although our wishes are hardly needed, and hope that his parents choose to name him something other Trayvon. Still, we defer again to the words of Samuel, who recalled God’s lament that “They have rejected Me, that I might not reign over them.”

— Bud Norman

It Could Have Been Obama

Does anyone really want to live in an America where a young black man can’t even pound some creepy-ass cracker’s head against the pavement without fear of being shot? We do, to be frank, but being of such a pale hue that some angry young black man or another might mistake us for a creepy-ass cracker we are grateful for any deterrent effect that the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman on charges of murdering Trayvon Martin might have. The President of the United States is apparently among the many who would prefer different rules for our cross-racial social interactions, on the other hand, and on Friday he declared in an impromptu appearance before the press that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
One might take this to mean that it could have been Barack Obama pounding that creepy-ass cracker’s head against the pavement, but we are hopefully willing to give him the benefit the doubt. It seems well within the realm of possibility that Obama’s only knowledge of the case has been gleaned from the more Obama-friendly media and is thus unaware of the eyewitness testimony and physical evidence that proved Martin was pounding Zimmerman’s head against the pavement at the time he was shot, or that Martin had described Zimmerman as a “creepy-ass cracker” during a cell phone conversation shortly before the attack, or that Martin was a self-proclaimed “thug,” or that Zimmerman had once been a loyal Obama supporter. It is a sad state of affairs when the best one can hope for that the president simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but here we are.
There has been much speculation that the president is talking about the case in order to divert attention from a variety of other issues, including an Internal Revenue Service scandal that can now be traced to a presidential appointee, the continuing train wreck that is Obamacare, or the part-time economy it has spawned, or the bankruptcy of Detroit, or any of the several deteriorating situations abroad, or even the extraordinary number of young black men dying violent deaths in his old hometown, but once again we’re willing concede the possibility that Obama truly believes that Martin’s right to pound a creepy-ass cracker’s head against the pavement is of greater importance. Or perhaps he believes that his preferred solutions to all those other problems will be more easily imposed upon a country divided by race, and that frank talk about the racial aspects of such problems as the Detroit bankruptcy and all those murders in Chicago will lead conclusions he does not prefer. The theory that it’s all a diversion is more comforting, but not at all satisfying.

— Bud Norman

A Bankrupt Way of Doing Things in Detroit

The rise and fall of formerly great civilizations is a favorite subject of historians, but Detroit is going to prove especially hard for them to explain.
Once a great American metropolis and an international icon of capitalist dynamism, the Motor City declared bankruptcy on Thursday and is thus officially bankrupt in every sense of the word, a third world hell-hole that cannot provide its largely illiterate population with basic services or protection from its unusually murderous criminal class and has wound up too far in debt to pay the obligations it has racked up in the futile attempt. The current crop of historians are respectable members of the academic community and will therefore immediately seek to pin the blame on those dastardly conservative Republicans who are behind every other historical catastrophe dating back to the fall of the Roman Empire, but this will be a hard argument to make even academic journals as Detroit’s last Republican mayor left office in back in the heyday of 1962 and the last remotely conservative citizen split town some time shortly after the race riots of ’67. Since then the city has allowed its core industries to be dominated by private sector labor unions that extorted ruinous contracts, its civic institutions to be dominated by public sector unions that left the city more than $16 billion in debt, its political culture to be dominated by racial animosities that drove its non-black citizens away and reduced the population by 61 percent from its peak, and has been rewarded for these decisions with a taxpayer-funded bailout of two of its largest employers that effectively handed total control to the unions.
Detroit has done everything right, in other words, and the consensus of contemporary academic opinion has no explanation for how it all turned out so disastrously. This is embarrassing for the consensus of contemporary academic opinion, as far as more uneducated folks will naturally conclude, but it’s also problematic for an Obama administration that was boasting as recently as the past presidential election that “We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt.” The administration is now reduced to telling the press that it is “monitoring the developments in Detroit closely,” and has yet to announce a position on the public service unions’ attempt to block the bankruptcy filing, but a more robust defense of the city’s policies is surely under consideration.
The most plausible explanation they’ll come up with is that the city failed because all those right-to-work states put the city an unfair economic disadvantage, and if only the rest of the country had agreed to protectionist trade policies that forced American motorists to live with whatever claptrap jalopies Detroit deigned to produce the city could have sustained its pork-laden efficiencies in perpetuity. The argument will no doubt find many sympathizers in the academic and political communities, as well as the more impoverished and illiterate neighborhoods of Detroit, but it’s going to be a hard sell elsewhere. Here in Wichita, where the crucial corporate jet industry is getting rhetorical trashing instead of bail-outs, it won’t even work down at the union halls.

— Bud Norman

New Details on an Old Scandal

Now is the perfect time for it, if you’re hoping to spare the Obama administration any further embarrassment, but there have been even more revelations about the Internal Revenue service’s targeting of conservative groups.
Although it was not widely noticed in the midst of all the post-Zimmerman racial hysteria, a report in the impeccably mainstream Washington Post puts the scandal as high up as the agency’s presidentially-appointed chief counsel and close enough to the administration that the paper is obliged to note that “No evidence so far has definitively linked the White House to the agency’s actions.” Even without all the Zimmerman hubbub you might have missed a story in Accounting Today, a web site for certified public accounts and anyone with an interest in certified public accountancy, which reports that the tax records of donors to conservative candidates and organizations were illegally made public.
Both stories are worth noting, even with a riveting racial morality play on the other pages, but much of the press would probably find some reason to underplay them in any circumstances. Using the IRS to harass political enemies was one of the articles of impeachment brought against President Richard Nixon, even though no evidence so far has definitely linked the White House to the agency’s actions, and prospect of the agency’s unbridled powers being used to squash dissent is no less serious today.
There’s a lot going in the world, including the Justice Department’s efforts to limit the citizenry’s right to self-defense in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, and much of it deserves the public’s close scrutiny. The IRS scandal certainly merits more attention, and more outrage, that it has lately been getting.

— Bud Norman