Advertisements

This Time in Milwaukee

The latest round of rioting and looting and mayhem happened Saturday in Milwaukee, where constant gunfire kept firefighters away from several blazes and any person of the wrong hue who had the misfortune to be walking down a certain stretch of Sherman Boulevard was subject to brutal mob violence. Yet another instance of a black man being shot by police officer had preceded it all, of course, and so the usual excuses of the “Black Lives Matter” movement will be made.
Those excuses are never sufficient for the victims of this ongoing violence, however, and in this case they’re all the more insufficient. In this case the man shot by a police officer was armed with a stolen semi-automatic pistol, one of those uniform “body-cams” that the activists have insisted on show he brandished the weapon as he fled from police during a routine traffic stop, he had a long record of arrests and a conviction for possession of a concealed weapon, and although there are still questions about the incident that will surely be thoroughly investigated under intense public scrutiny all of that should at least give some pausing to the rioting. In any case the businesses that were destroyed and those unfortunate folks of the wrong hue who happened to be in the vicinity had nothing to do with the shooting, and the violence and destruction that were inflicted will have no positive effects on anyone.
In this case the officer whose life was on the line was also black, and therefore presumably not motivated by any racial animus, but that won’t matter to a “Black Lives Matter” movement so strangely selective about which black lives matter. They seem to care little for the lives of the brave black men and women who don a police uniform and a gun to try to impose some semblance of law and order on the most lawless and disorderly streets of America, nor for the untold number of murdered black lives that will surely be added to an already inordinate black death toll once those efforts at law enforcement are in retreat from the mob.
As the crime rates rise in those cities afflicted by the anti-police protest movement the chances of a police officer still more or less on the job having to make a split-second decision about how to respond to known felon brandishing a loaded gun will increase, the ensuing riots will fuel a further retreat by law enforcement and another uptick in the crime, and at some point frank talk and real leadership will be required to halt the cycle. All of this comes near the end of what was promised would eight years of a post-racial America, and although it wouldn’t be fair to blame all of this on President Barack Obama it does seem fair to say that he hasn’t made good on those grandiose promises. He’s consistently taken sides against the police in every controversial case, often before the facts emerged to prove his prejudgments incorrect, and his Justice Department has taken similarly premature stands, with the same embarrassing results. His Education Department has also insisted that schools mete out suspensions and expulsions according to a strict racial quota system, which ignores and exacerbates the reality that in many schools some racial groups are committing infractions that call for suspensions and expulsions at a greater rate than others, and his Department of Housing and Urban Development has been imposing similarly cockamamie notions of racial justice on otherwise contented communities around the country.
Despite such efforts, black unemployment remains far higher the national average, with the youth unemployment rising still further over Depression-era rates with every hike in the minimum wage, overall black wages and household wealth are on the decline, and in the cities where the police departments have fallen under federal scrutiny the black murder rates are on the rise. The president’s approval ratings among black Americans remain high, though, and his endorsed would-be Democratic successor is eager to reap their votes and unwilling to challenge his policies. The would-be Republican successor is echoing Nixon’s “law and order” theme from the riot-torn days of ’68, but at the moment the country doesn’t seem to regard him as as the sort racial healer who might stave off a race war. So far the only leadership that has dealt with the complex situation frankly has been at the local level, such as that black police chief in Dallas who largely restored order at the murder of five of his officers, but we’ll need more.

— Bud Norman

Advertisements

Biting the Ears Off the Race

The likely presidential nominee for the Republican party has proudly accepted the endorsement of a convicted rapist, the disgraced boxer Mike Tyson, gloating that “You know, all the tough guys endorse me.” This outrage du jour from the Donald J. Trump campaign won’t give any pause to his so-loyal-he-could-shoot-someone supporters, but we wonder how it will play with a majority-female general electorate that last time around was persuaded the far more gentlemanly Republican nominee was waging a “War on women” because he spoke of the “binders full of women” he had perused in a good faith effort to make sure the state of Massachusetts was being fair in its hiring practices.
This time around the likely Republican nominee has two cheated-on and thoroughly screwed-over ex-wives, a long and undeniable history of making outrageously sexist comments, ran strip clubs and beauty pageants, and clearly relishes the resulting sexist pig public image that already has him scoring disastrous disapproval ratings among women in every public opinion poll, so the Democrats’ work should be all the easier this time around. We’d like to think that a candidate’s praise of a convicted rapist and disgraced boxer who took two bites out of an opponent’s ears would even harm his chances of securing the Republican nomination, but this time around our party in in such a mood that at least a winning plurality will mouth the slogan that “at least he fights.”
Trump’s Nixon-era dirty trickster surrogate Roger Stone took time out from threatening any anti-Trump delegates with a visit to their convention hotel rooms and “tweeting” out racist bile to send a “tweet” suggesting that any criticism of Trump’s longstanding friendship with the convicted black of rapist of a black woman is somehow racist, and even Trump’s many proudly racist supporters will surely agree, but it seems unlikely to win over many black voters of either sex in the general election. Trump is still on the record calling for the execution of some black teens who were wrongfully accused of raping a white woman in Central Park some years ago, and the guy who boasts that he never settles a suit did settle a suit with the Justice Department over his racist rental policies some years ago, and although the Democrats always charge the Republic with racism their work will be all the easier this time around.
Trump’s so loyal-he-could-shoot-someone supporters seem to like the idea of the kind of tough guy that won’t take no for an answer and is willing to bite an opponent’s ear off, but they should remember that Tyson lost that fight to the nicer-but-tougher Evander Holyfield, and that during his stay in prison for a rape that he quite clearly did commit no matter how famous he was he got a tattoo of Mao Tse Tung on arm as well as that weird monstrosity that mars his already ugly face, and signed on the Louis Farrakhan and all sorts of other abominable ideas, and that his endorsement is nothing to be proud of.

— Bud Norman

Battering Rams in Wisconsin

This is America, where a citizen is free to express opinions and participate in politics without fear of retribution. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but the ideal seems to be slipping away. The diminution of fresh speech is not just a matter of the increasingly confined parameters of polite opinion, enforced by boycotts and restricted career opportunities and the howling of mobs, or even the usual heavy hand of government, such as the harassment of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service or the politicized prosecutions by the Department of Justice or the extra regulatory scrutiny applied to those businesses donating to the wrong candidates. It has now come to the point that armed agents of the government have been invading homes, seizing property, and bullying ordinary citizens into silence for no reason other than their political beliefs.
If this sounds like the most far-fetched sort of paranoid right-wing fantasy, we’d urge you to read David French’s chilling article, headlined “Wisconsin’s Shame: ‘I Thought it Was a Home Invasion,'” at The National Review. Although there had already been scattered reports about the outrageous “John Doe Investigation” that a renegade prosecutor and a rubber-stamping judge had launched against various groups that supported Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to reform the state’s collective bargaining laws regarding public sector unions, a fishing expedition which was eventually halted by a higher court that rightly considered it a clear attempt to intimidate the prosecutor’s political opponents into silence, only now are those targeted in the investigation coming forward with stories about doors being broken down with battering rams, computers being confiscated, children being terrified, neighbors being scandalized, and dozens of heavily armed police officers shouting warnings that no lawyers were to be contacted and no was to be told. The descriptions evoke Nazi-era Germany or the Soviet bloc, but it happened in Wisconsin, the birthplace of the “progressive movement.”
One can hope that it was a rare occurrence, now ended by the prevailing cooler heads of a higher court according to constitutional design, but one can only hope. There’s no way to be sure that other similarly terrified citizens are still staying silent as warned, and that an indifferent press is happy to leave it to the likes of a high-brow and relatively little-read right-wing publication such as The National Review to report on such inconsequential news if they ever come forward. Given the gleeful ostracizing of anyone who dissents from the consensus of progressive opinion regarding same-sex marriage or global warming, the hateful lies of the lynch mobs that are roused by racial hustlers and Rolling Stone fabulists and the “community outreach teams” of the Justice Department, the presidential rhetoric that warns any critics their dissent “needs to stop,” the increasingly apparent realization that no one at the Internal Revenue Service or the Justice Department or any of those regulatory agencies will ever suffer any consequences for their misdeeds, the indifference of the press, and the sheer seething hatred toward anything conservative we hear from all the liberal media and all the liberals we know, a hatred that seems to have overwhelmed whatever love they once had for freedom and the rule of law, we are no longer surprised to hear even the stories that evoke Nazi Germany and the Soviet bloc.
Please pass along that chilling story about what happened in Wisconsin, because we expect that most of the mass media will regard it as local and of little consequence and not nearly so important as anything slightly embarrassing they might come up with about Gov. Scott Walker. At the risk of a battering ram at the door, we’ll say it’s a matter of the greatest consequence. This is America, after all, where a citizen should be free to express an opinion and participate in the political process without fear of retribution.

— Bud Norman

An Impossible Essay Question

Our college days were long ago in the era of raccoon coats and ukeleles and pitching woo over a box lunch on the quad, but we still try to keep abreast of the contemporary campus scene. These days the talk seems mostly about sex, as it was even back in our day, but it’s lately been a strange conversation.
After decades of giddily deconstructing the sexually repressed patriarchy and its archaic Judeo-Christians superstitions that notoriously kept women barefoot and pregnant through the ’50s or so, academia has now decided that neither does it care for the ongoing fraternity orgy that has resulted. Unsurprisingly enough the more demure co-eds haven’t found the promised self-fulfillment of sexual freedom, and instead feel put upon by the highly sexualized new social standards, and the modern feminist academia has declared it a “Culture of Rape.” Rape is defined here more broadly than law, lexicography, and the general English-speaking public have long understood the term, to the point that it encompasses almost any sexual activity that a woman later regrets, and with prodding from the Department of Justice schools are working to stamp it out. Bringing back that sexually repressed patriarchy is of course out of the question, so the official response has to been to do away with due process and presume the guilt of any student accused of violating the nebulous new rules of sexual propriety. At Ohio State University, proving one’s innocence not only entails proving the other party’s consent but also proving they had reached agreement on why they are having sex.
Our further advice to any libidinous Buckeyes is to get the agreement in writing, not because it’s likely to keep anyone off the sex offender register but because the documents would make for such fascinating reading. Over the past many millennia the question of why we have sex has been pondered by the world’s most brilliant scientists, philosophers, poets, and advice columnists, none of whom have come up with an adequate explanation for why anyone should become involved with such messy nonsense, and it would be quite a hoot to see those kids who sit shirtless in sub-freezing football stadiums with their fraternity letters painted on their fashionably-toned tummies take a stab at the question. Psychiatrists and stand-up comedians would find a gold mine of material in comparing the stated reasons of the men and to those of the women, making the unforgivably heteronormative assumption that a man and woman are involved, and our guess is that little sexual activity would occur even on a college campus if both parties were honestly forthcoming about their motives. Even the biggest and hunkiest man on campus is likely to strike out with even the most promiscuous and plain girl after affixing his signature to a document stating that he agrees to the ensuing sexual encounter because the party of the second of the part has large breasts and he’s been on a dry spell lately. Even the comeliest campus queen would be rebuffed even by the most nerdy engineering student if she ever confessed whatever dark and twisted character flaw it is that would cause anyone, at any age, to contemplate having sex with something so hideous as a college boy.
Some couples might state the same reasons of true love and all that, but given the current offerings in popular music and motion pictures we can’t imagine where today’s college students would get such ideas. Youngsters used to get such lofty notions from their literature classes, where Shakespeare was comparing his love to a summer’s day and finding her more lovely temperate, or on the black-and-white late shows that used to be the only thing on television, where Bogie was sagely telling the highly desirable Ingrid Bergman that the problems of two little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this world, but those lessons have been lost. All that dead white male stuff is read only to expose its crimes against race, class, and gender, and anyone watching the late show rather than the latest indy films on the internet will find that the oldies are now from the ’70s when the sexual revolution still seemed a heroic cause. The college students being presumed guilty of violating the new and as yet unenunciated rules have been shaped more by popular entertainments and academic pronouncements and a political party’s promises of free contraceptions that constitutes what is, if not precisely a “culture of rape,”  a culture that encourages the behavior that the schools and the Justice Department hope to stamp out by iron-fisted governmental power rather than that nasty old social stigma that used to discourage inevitably horny college boys from pressing equally horny and inept young women into activities they later regret. Social stigma is so judgmental, after all, and although it once proved more effective than the government’s harsher measures it doesn’t pay any bureaucratic salaries.
We’ll keep an eye out for further developments, as we find it one of the more hilarious academic follies of recent years. Trying to impose some sort of sexual restraint on these college kids is going to be challenging, especially without any of that archaic Judeo-Christian superstition or any other commonsensical social rationale redolent of that still-hated patriarchy, and we’ll be interested to see how the dwindling number of male students on our college campuses react to being presumed guilty of sexual assault. Perhaps it should be a condition of enrolling in a school that the student and university sign a statement that explains their reasons for entering such an agreement. The student probably won’t mention a desire to learn the best of his civilization’s knowledge, or to prepare for a lucrative career in the soon-to-be-booming economy, and might even admit that he’s hoping to get some action for taking on a job and a wife. The school will admit that they’re interested in the tuition money that goes up every time the federal student loan program authorizes an increase in debt loads, or they’ll also admit a desire to indoctrinate another middle white class into anti-Americanism. At that point, nobody will be getting any action.

— Bud Norman

J’Accuse

At this point we might as well divulge our suspicion that the Internal Revenue Service’s illegal harassment of the president’s political foes was ordered by the president himself. Proving such a portentous claim is difficult when a key figure in the scandal is pleading the Fifth Amendment and essential documents are missing, but that only makes it all the more suspicious, and after so many presidential lies and scandals we no longer feel obliged to make a presumption of innocence.
The explanations offered for the missing e-mails that might have proved our suspicions is dubious at best. We are to believe that two years of essential correspondence were lost to a computer crash, and that the hard drive was then destroyed for recycling purposes, which is an alibi that would not past master with the IRS if any audited company of individual taxpayer were desperate enough to offer it. It seems strange, too, that the computer crash not only deprived congressional investigators of the e-mails sent by Lois Lerner, the aforementioned Fifth-Amendment-pleading key figure in the case, but six other important players, one of whom was a frequent visitor to the White House during the time the harassment was taking place. That the crash occurred just 10 days after the IRS had received a letter from a congressman who was inquiring about reports of harassed “tea party” organizations and other conservative groups seems stranger yet.
It seems very much like criminal obstruction of justice at worst and a damning confession of bureaucratic incompetence at best, and in either case it is the sort of thing no agency would do unless there was something even worse that they didn’t want known. There is now no doubt that the president’s political foes who applied for tax-exempt status were subjected to a punitive degree of scrutiny at far higher rates than their more administration-friendly counterparts, which has been acknowledged and apologized for by the agency, so all the is left to be hidden is the identity of those responsible. After initially expressing his outrage at the scandal, and claiming that he’d only become aware of it by reading media reports, the president has since referred to the matter as a “phony scandal” and insisted there wasn’t a “smidgen of corruption” involved, but if he’s reading the same media reports we are it might have also occurred to him that the only person worth protecting by such risky and impeachable means is the president. His apparent disinterest in the matter of the missing e-mails that might have put such suspicions to rest, and the disinterest of his thoroughly politicized Justice Department, also seems strange.
A patriotic respect for the office of the president leaves on uneasy harboring such grave suspicions, but the same respect requires that we hold the occupants of the office to the highest standards and give due consideration to such well-grounded suspicions. The current occupant’s long history of disregard for the law, even the ones he lobbied for and signed, along with his outspoken disdain for those who dare disagree with him, as well as a long-established style of political combat learned from Saul Alinsky’s no-holds-barred “Rules for Radicals,” make those nagging suspicions all the more plausible. Forgive our skepticism, which the president would surely deride as the “cynicism” that prevents the public from embracing his leadership, but we just wouldn’t put it past the guy to sic the IRS on those “tea party” groups and pro-Israel organizations that he so clearly reviled.
At this point in the Watergate scandal, which ended with President Richard Nixon resigning rather than face the charge that he had unsuccessfully “endeavored” to use the IRS against his political foes, much of the media were already screaming “Guilty.” We’ll hold off on that, and eagerly await the slow trickle of damning revelations that are sure to come over the summer, but we will admit to being darned suspicious. Maybe we’re wrong, but we’d interested to hear the president make the case why we are. Perhaps the exculpatory evidence was in those e-mails that went mysteriously missing, but if so a sweet irony will prevent him from the proof.

— Bud Norman

Cockiness in the Face of Scandal

All those pesky scandals seem to be taking their toll on the president’s popularity, judging by the latest round of opinion polls, but he remains confident. Cocksure might be the more apt word, in fact, given his recent actions.
The president is so little affected by the Benghazi fiasco that he has appointed as his new national security advisor the woman who played the lead role in peddling by the administration’s lies about it. Although the president has expressed his dismay that the Internal Revenue Service was singling out conservative groups for extraordinary scrutiny, yet the woman who ran the office where it was happening remains on her new job administering the vast Obamacare bureaucracy. The president’s Attorney General, meanwhile, remains in charge of a Justice Department that has been snooping through the phone records of reporters and millions of ordinary American citizens.
Having won re-election despite such scandals as the crony-capitalism Solyndra deal, the deadly Fast and Furious program, and the early revelations about the four deaths in Benghazi, and despite a weak economic recovery and the early warning signs that the Obamacare program was going to be a disaster, the administration’s cockiness is understandable. The president can safely assume that a significant portion of the country isn’t paying any attention, being too engrossed by the celebrity news programs where the president occasionally shows up as a much-fawned-over personage, and that another significant portion is so enamored of him and so hostile to his opponents that it will gladly forgive him any misdeed. Let the headlines inevitably recede, he can plausibly predict, and the more independent-minded voters will return to his cause just in time for the mid-term congressional and allow him to finish out his term with the unrestrained power that he enjoyed in his first two years.
It might work, but there is reason is to hope that it will not. The national media have at long last begun to notice the president’s fallibility, perhaps because the Justice Department’s probe of the Associated Press was one too many assaults on their profession, and although the media still haven’t reached the same levels of hysteria they displayed throughout the Bush administration they are at least more feisty than in the recent past. All the coverage seems to have dented the administration’s reputation for honesty, which never had any basis in reality to begin with, and once trust is lost it is rarely regained. Much of the public will begin look at the administration’s claims on a number of issues with a newfound skepticism, and when they take another look at the economy and Obamacare they’ll be harder to convince that things are going well.
There is no way of knowing how much the scandals have to do with it, but the president has not been successful lately in foisting his agenda on the country. He was routed on his pet gun control proposals, despite the emotional atmosphere that prevailed after the tragic Newtown shootings, and the immigration reforms that he has championed are stalled in Congress despite a bi-partisan effort to push them through while the scandals provide a smoke screen. The president was also forced to accept the “sequester” cuts in the rate of growth in the federal budget, with his efforts to blame every new misfortune on the slight decline failing to persuade anyone but the true believers, and if he has any economic program it doesn’t seem to be getting any attention.
This could all redound to the president’s benefit in the mid-terms, when the Democrats’ battle cry will be that everything is going to hell because the Republicans were too obsessed with insignificant scandals and failed to enact the president’s brilliant plan, whatever it was, but he shouldn’t be too cocky about it. The scandalous headlines will have receded a year from now, but they’ll have left a lingering sense of distrust and washed away the messianic image the president once enjoyed with the help of a partisan press, and they’ll be replaced by stories about health insurance rate hikes and the economic fallout of the Fed’s eventual realization that it can’t keep printing money forever, and the opposition will be both outraged and emboldened.

— Bud Norman

The Bright Side of the Scandals

There are so many scandals currently swirling about the White House, each with so many convoluted subplots, that even the most avid enthusiast will find it hard to keep up with the latest twists. As much as we’ve been enjoying the spectacle, especially the hilarious answers being offered up by an administration unaccustomed to hard questions, following all the developments is proving so exhausting that we’re thinking of switching to “Breaking Bad” or some other trendy episodic television series.
The scandals are so numerous, and the damning details so voluminous, that there is some concern among the administration’s critics that their effect will blunted. Some worry that with each scandal vying for news space and attention none of them will get the attention nor provoke the outrage that it individually warrants. Others worry that the stories are so constant the public will soon come to regard such abuses of governmental power as normal, in much the same way that they’ve become accustomed to trillion dollar deficits or Obamacare. Yet another theory, more compelling to us, holds that the stories are distracting attention from more consequential scandals such as trillion dollar deficits and Obamacare. No one on the right seems confident that anyone will ever be held responsible, that any meaningful reforms will be enacted to prevent such outrages in the future, or that the opposition to the administration will even gain a political advantage from all the muck.
Despite being temperamentally inclined toward such pessimism, we are cautiously hopeful that the revelations of all the scandals will ultimately have some beneficial effect on the nation’s politics. Despite a virtual declaration of war upon them by the Justice Department the media still aren’t covering any of the scandals with the same screeching indignation that they brought to the non-scandal of George W. Bush’s 30-year-old Air National Guard records or the celebrification of Valerie Plame, which would be too much to hope for, but a surprising amount of attention is being paid. At this point even the most determinedly uninformed Americans have heard enough snippets of stories to sense that something is awry, and they’re not hearing anything reassuring. Occasional editorial efforts to assure that the public that the scandals are of no importance have the same curiosity-inducing effect of a policeman telling passersby that “here’s nothing to see here,” and the administration’s claims that the needless deaths of four Americans in a far-flung Libyan consulate happened a long time ago, that the president’s chief of staff didn’t want to bother the president with the news that the Internal Revenue Service was harassing his political enemies, and that the Attorney General was righteously offended by the warrants he’d signed to treat investigative journalism was a criminal conspiracy are not likely to satisfy anyone but the most loyal partisans.
What’s more, the general impression to be gleaned from all the noise is that the government is not to be trusted, neither for competence nor honesty. This sobering realization, which has been a bedrock assumption of conservatism since at least the days Edmund Burke, will inform the debate on any number of issues. Although it is possible that the Congress will pass a bring ‘em on immigration reform bill under the cover of the scandals, those paying attention will be more likely to heed the skeptical voices noting that the amnesty proceeds the long-awaited border enforcement and other promises intended to reassure the conservative majority. The shocking abuses of the IRS will strengthen the arguments against Obamcare, which hands unprecedented powers to the rogue agency, and should revive efforts to replace the irreparably corrupt tax system with something flatter and simpler. The brazen attempt to silence dissent in both the IRS and Justice Department scandals will also embolden both the Tea Party and the press, maybe even lessen their bitter rivalry, and it can be expected that even more whistle-blowers will free to come forward with even more revelations.
Perhaps it’s too much to hope for, but we can’t help thinking that maybe those phony “green jobs” programs with their million-dollar-a-job price tags will be looked at with a newfound skepticism, and even the trillion dollar deficits that they’re adding to will be reconsidered. A long, hot summer of scandals slowly trickling into the news will lead nice into the 2014 election season, and if the conservatives don’t take advantage it will be their own fault.

— Bud Norman

Elsewhere in the News

There are only so many stories that even the most avid news-reader can follow, and lately they have been the ones about the various scandals afoot in Washington. These are important matters, and provide the amusing spectacle of White House officials flailing about as they deal with the first press scrutiny of their careers, but it is necessary to step back and take note that everything else is also going to hell in a handbasket.
Thursday brought bad economic news, with jobless claims rising and housing starts falling, and provided a reminder that unemployment remains high, growth slow, and the national debt mounting. Such sad statistics will cause the Federal Reserve to keep printing money at the frantic pace that has led to record highs on the stock market, which in turn has led to some strangely happy talk in the few stories that are reported, but other needed economic reforms are unlikely to become a national priority until the inevitable downturn. The sluggishness of the economy was a widely ignored story even before the current scandals began to dominate the news, with everyone in Washington preferring to talk about same-sex marriage or gun control or who was wearing what at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, even though it remains of some interest to the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeing their incomes fall further as prices rise.
It will be briefly noted deep within the pages of the more staid newspapers that the House of Representatives voted once again to repeal Obamacare, and the story doesn’t deserve much more attention given that it will fail once again in the Senate and that it would be vetoed by the president in any case. This means that Obamacare will continue to provide businesses with strong incentives not to offer employees more than 29 hours of work to any employee or to have more than 49 of them around, among its many unfortunate economic effects, but as previously noted that sort of thing is no longer considered newsworthy. Obamacare was more prominently mentioned in reports that the same woman who is at the center of the Internal Revenue Service’s scandalous targeting of conservative groups is now in charge of the agency’s enforcement of the health care law’s numerous tax provisions.
The distraction of the various scandals might provide an opportunity for congress to pass an immigration reform bill that would otherwise provoke greater public resistance. Several politicians in good standings with conservatives are backing a plan proposed in the Senate, and Democratic constituencies such as unions and blacks that have reason to oppose are apparently being kept in line, but there are widespread doubts that the promised border enforcement will ever happen and those distracting scandals do little to inspire trust. Given the fact of the aforementioned millions of Americans who are out of work there is also reason to question the wisdom of bringing even more millions of people into the workforce, but that once again raises those economic subjects that no one seems to want to talk about.
A short White House visit by the Prime Minister of Turkey, who was in town to talk about the deteriorating situation in Syria before heading off on a trip to Gaza that the Americans had asked him not to take, took up just enough of the news to remind readers that pretty much all of the international scene is also dismal. At a rain-soaked news conference the president agreed to increase pressure on the Syrian dictator, although he avoided any further mention of his widely-ridiculed “red line” declarations, and then wound up fending off questions about Benghazi, the IRS, and the Justice Department’s snooping around in the Associated Press’ phone records. No one wants to talk about that foreign policy stuff, either.
On a more positive note, no one wants to talk about whatever it is that the president wants them to talk about. Things have gotten so bad that even The New York Times reports that “Onset of Woes Casts Pall Over Obama’s Policy Aspirations.” The Gray Lady seems to regard this as an unfortunate development, but it might be best that can be said of a bad situation.

— Bud Norman

After the Scandals

Each of the various scandals swirling around Washington are important on their own terms, as well as a source of guilty pleasure to right-wing bastards such as ourselves, but they will also have important implications in the policy squabbles that will continue long after the accusatory headlines have faded.
The Internal Revenue Service’s outrageous targeting of conservative groups, for instance, will now figure in at least two ongoing debates. Advocates of the flat tax, the fair tax, and other simplified tax systems have always claimed their proposals would eliminate the possibility of such politicized IRS actions, among other advantages, and the argument is made stronger by the latest revelations. Critics of the Obamacare law were concerned from the outset about how it grows the size and scope of the IRS, which will be empowered to enforce the controversial individual mandate and its host of new taxes, and those critics will also become more persuasive in their attempts at repeal.
A Justice Department probe that sought a suspiciously broad range of phone records from the Associated Press will affect a broader debate about the media’s peculiar relationship with the government in much the same way. It might even affect the media’s previously adoring perception of the government, potentially having all sorts of ramifications on the next few years of politics, and it might even affect the public’s perception of the much-maligned conservative news sources. Past Justice Department scandals, ranging from the decision to let the New Black Panthers loose on voter intimidation charges and stonewalling the Fast and Furious fiasco, could also be seen in a newly harsh light.
Continuing revelations about the incompetence that led to the Benghazi tragedy and the dishonesty that followed it will similarly inform future discussions of foreign policy. Those who argue for a more frank resistance to radical Islamists, rather than the sort of cultural relativism that would appease them with the imprisonment of anyone who dares criticize their views, will surely be bolstered in their efforts.
The cumulative effect of all the scandals can only create a greater public skepticism about the government’s abilities and integrity, which in turn affects everything. Almost every political issue pits those who would expand the size, scope, and cost of government against those who would limit it to the traditional essential chores of national defense, issuing a sound currency, enforcing contracts, security the liberties of the people, and a few modest attempts at promoting the general welfare. The latter group might not prevail, but they will be energized and the scandals can only help their cause.

— Bud Norman