The IRS scandal took on new impetus today with a interesting revelation:
Top IRS officials in Washington, D.C. planned and oversaw the agency’s improper targeting of conservative groups, according to the 72-year old retiring IRS lawyer who will testify Thursday before the House Oversight Committee.
Retiring IRS lawyer Carter C. Hull implicated the IRS Chief Counsel’s office, headed by Obama appointee William J. Wilkins, and Lois Lerner, the embattled head of the IRS’ exempt organizations office, in the IRS targeting scandal and made clear that the targeting started in Washington, according to leaked interviews that Hull granted to the Oversight Committee in advance of Thursday’s hearing.
Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George will return to Republican chairman Darrell Issa’s committee Thursday along with two central characters in the IRS saga: Hull and Cincinnati-based IRS employee Elizabeth Hofacre, who previously gave Hull’s name to congressional investigators, fingering him as her Washington-based supervisor.
Yup, the rats are deserting the sinking ship. They are certainly not willing to go down with it and so they’re naming names. And contrary to all the claims previously, it seems that Washington D.C. was indeed involved and not just a “couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati” as we were told in the beginning.
It’s usually never the crime itself that hangs politicians, but the attempted (and ham-fisted) cover-up. And that’s precisely what this is beginning to look like. As for being “ham-fisted”, is there anything this administration does that isn’t ham-fisted?
And William Saletan Slate articulates it:
The problem at the core of this case wasn’t race or guns. The problem was assumption, misperception, and overreaction. And that cycle hasn’t ended with the verdict. It has escalated.
I almost joined the frenzy. Yesterday I was going to write that Zimmerman pursued Martin against police instructions and illustrated the perils of racial profiling. But I hadn’t followed the case in detail. So I sat down and watched the closing arguments: nearly seven hours of video in which the prosecution and defense went point by point through the evidence as it had been hashed out at the trial. Based on what I learned from the videos, I did some further reading.
It turned out I had been wrong about many things. The initial portrait of Zimmerman as a racist wasn’t just exaggerated. It was completely unsubstantiated. It’s a case study in how the same kind of bias that causes racism can cause unwarranted allegations of racism. Some of the people Zimmerman had reported as suspicious were black men, so he was a racist. Members of his family seemed racist, so he was a racist. Everybody knew he was a racist, so his recorded words were misheard as racial slurs, proving again that he was a racist.
His summary is very on point. This entire shameful episode has been both media and politically driven. It has never been about justice. Never. It has been an attempt at a high-tech lynching, based on rumor, innuendo, false reporting, political pressure and misrepresentation.
Shameful doesn’t even begin to describe it. And now, as Saletan points out, the same groups who caused this travesty to reach the point of a trial, have now doubled down on getting George Zimmerman in other ways despite an outright acquittal on all charges related to the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Saletan makes the point that the case was more about a series of mistakes leading to a confrontation that should have never happened and, on Martin’s side an attack that was unwarranted. As hard as the usual suspects have tried to make it about race and racism, their attempts have failed at every turn. The facts simply don’t support the premise at all.
And the overreaction continues as ill-informed groups riot (more to grab a TV at Wal-Mart in some cases than to protest the verdict) egged on by a media who has all but excused rioters for their action by subtly sending the message that the Zimmerman acquittal justifies their actions.
Meanwhile, the overreactive beat goes on:
The grievance industrial complex is pushing the Department of Justice to prosecute Zimmerman for bias-motivated killing, based on evidence that didn’t even support a conviction for unpremeditated killing.
Truly amazing but not surprising.
We can only hope that someday sanity will again prevail in this great nation of ours.
That’s preciesly what this administration and president have done. Bypassed Congress and trashed the Constitution:
The employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act contains no provision allowing the president to suspend, delay or repeal it. Section 1513(d) states in no uncertain terms that “The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.” Imagine the outcry if Mitt Romney had been elected president and simply refused to enforce the whole of ObamaCare.
This is not the first time Mr. Obama has suspended the operation of statutes by executive decree, but it is the most barefaced. In June of last year, for example, the administration stopped initiating deportation proceedings against some 800,000 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16, lived here at least five years, and met a variety of other criteria. This was after Congress refused to enact the Dream Act, which would have allowed these individuals to stay in accordance with these conditions. Earlier in 2012, the president effectively replaced congressional requirements governing state compliance under the No Child Left Behind Act with new ones crafted by his administration.
The president defended his suspension of the immigration laws as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. He defended his amending of No Child Left Behind as an exercise of authority in the statute to waive certain requirements. The administration has yet to offer a legal justification for last week’s suspension of the employer mandate.
There’s even talk of impeachment, although you know that will go nowhere (see my last post). No one has the stomach to really enforce any rules up there and that goes for both sides. But, as the Constitutional scholar that wrote the above points out, the Constitution pointedly charges the executive with “the faithful enforcement of the law”. In fact it is his or her constitutional duty.
The Supreme Court has been pretty clear on this too.
Of all the stretches of executive power Americans have seen in the past few years, the president’s unilateral suspension of statutes may have the most disturbing long-term effects. As the Supreme Court said long ago (Kendall v. United States, 1838), allowing the president to refuse to enforce statutes passed by Congress “would be clothing the president with a power to control the legislation of congress, and paralyze the administration of justice.”
And that’s pretty much where this is headed. We are being subjected to the arbitrary enforcement of law. The rule of men. In the case of the statutes for ObamaCare, it’s because of politics. That’s why you hear no outraged voiced by Democrats. They will benefit electorally by not having to face the uproar sure to come with it’s implementation should that happen before the 2014 midterms. However, as noted above, if Mitt Romney had been elected and was the one doing this, Democrats would be squealing like stuck Constitutional hogs.
Another recent example of Obama’s arrogance is his “recess that wasn’t a recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. How can anyone have confidence in the rulings of the NLRB when it appears to have been illegally constituted – another arrogant example of ignoring the lines between executive and legislative power. If a board is illegal, how are its rulings enforceable?
These are important questions that demand an answer. Instead, they’re ignored, the corruption and arrogance grows and we’re subjected to arbitrary rule with no check.
If I’m not mistaken, we once based a revolution on those sorts of abuses.
It really is that simple. And you don’t need a PhD to figure that out. It is a “Human Nature 101″ course. If there’s no incentive for you to behave correctly and every incentive not to (i.e. no punishment), then why behave correctly?
Now, consider the government we have today and all the various scandals. Who is the last person who blatantly violated the public trust that you’ve seen frog-marched to jail? Hmmm. But it takes a bunch of academics to again remind us that human nature still rules:
In a new study, Stern School of Business assistant professor of economics Vasiliki Skreta and co-authors, Karthik Reddy of Harvard Law School and Moritz Schularick of the University of Bonn, examine statutory immunity provisions that obstruct or limit the criminal liability of politicians, and which exist throughout much of the modern democratic world.
…The researchers quantified the strength of immunity protection in 74 democracies and verified that immunity is strongly associated with corruption on an aggregate level. They also developed a theoretical model that demonstrated how stronger immunity protection can lead to higher corruption. The model suggested that unaccountable politicians under immunity protection can enhance their chance of re-election by using illegal means, namely supporting interest groups through lax law enforcement, non-collection of taxes, and other forms of favoritism that will go unpunished.
Where’s Charley Rangel? Chris Dodd? Barney Frank? Oh, enjoying retirement. Turbo Tax Tim Geithner? Well, not in jail.
And how about Lois Lerner? From what does she want immunity? Well in reality, she wants immunity from accountability. There’s no other reason to seek immunity otherwise.
Unfortunately, she’ll probably get it and we’ll watch the level of corruption within government continue to grow, and grow and grow.
You want to know why people don’t trust government?
Here’s a story not getting much attention, but is indicative of how President Obama tends to use executive power when he can’t get his way with Congress. Rule by executive fiat.
What am I talking about? As you may recall, Obama made appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) during a supposed Congressional recess. Except it wasn’t really a recess. Congress was not between sessions (that constitutes a recess), but was instead it was on an intrasession break, one of many Congress takes during any session. Never have those been considered recesses of the type in which recess appointments could be legally made.
That is until this administration. That’s precisely how the vacant slots on the NLRB were filled with Obama appointees.
Over the past year, Cablevision has been in the midst of a brutal public battle with the Communication Workers of America over pay for technicians and allegations of union-busting. In May, Cablevision sought the intervention of an appeals court to stay proceedings at the NLRB, and now, the company is hoping that the high court will take up the issue of the NLRB’s authority.
The point, of course, isn’t particularly about the dispute. It’s one in a long line of management and labor disputes. The question is whether or not the NLRB is legally constituted given the way the appointments were made. It’s about the rule of law. When citizens see the government flout the law or ignore it, it doesn’t set a good precedent. Yet that’s precisely what has happened in this case.
And that’s what Cablevision is questioning. How is there legitimacy in an illegally appointed board? And why, should their rulings be obeyed, given the circumstances of the board’s recent constitution. Here’s the point:
“The role of Congress is to ensure a balanced NLRB and the Obama Administration bypassed Congress in order to stack the NLRB in favor of Big Labor. Two different federal courts — the D.C. Circuit and the Third Circuit — have established that the NLRB is illegally constituted and has no authority to take action. The NLRB continues to ignore these rulings, and we ask the Supreme Court to compel the NLRB to immediately halt its unlawful proceedings against Cablevision.”
Shades of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela – Chavez kept the institutions of a democracy, but he packed them with his loyal appointees that shared the same ideology and agenda. With what has happened with the IRS and the EPA, etc, that’s not as big a stretch as one might imagine.
This should be interesting to watch:
A group of small business owners (and individuals) in six states today are suing the federal government over an IRS regulation imposed under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which will force them to pay exorbitant fines, cut back employees’ hours, or severely burden their businesses. Complaint can be viewed here.
The Affordable Care Act authorizes health insurance subsidies to qualifying individuals in states that created their own healthcare exchanges. Those subsidies trigger the employer mandate (a $2,000/employee penalty) and expose more people to the individual mandate. But last spring, without authorization from Congress, the IRS vastly expanded those subsidies to cover states that refused to set up such exchanges. Under the Act, businesses in these nonparticipating states should be free of the employer mandate, and the scope of the individual mandate should be reduced as well. But because of the IRS rule, both mandates will be greatly enlarged in scope, depriving states of the power to protect their residents.
Michael Carvin, partner at Jones Day, who co-argued the Supreme Court Obamacare cases in March, 2012 and who represents the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, stated: “The IRS rule we are challenging is at war with the Act’s plain language and completely rewrites the deal that Congress made with the states on running these insurance exchanges.”
33 states have refused to set up these exchanges. The IRS, per the complaint, is ignoring that ability given by the states by the law and proceeding as if it didn’t exist. The argument is the IRS is overstepping it’s authority.
“Agencies are bound by the laws enacted by Congress,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). “Obamacare is already an incredibly massive program. For the IRS to expand it even more, without congressional authorization and in a manner aimed at undercutting state choice, is flagrantly illegal.” CEI is coordinating the lawsuit.
We’ll see. Given the way the law is interpreted anymore, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see the IRS upheld (or the suits be dismissed out of hand). Such is the lack of respect and confidence I hold for our “legal system” anymore.
In the case of Michael Bloomberg’s overreach in banning a specific size of soda drink, the defender is some fellow named Lawrence Gostin. The headline of the article he’s written is “Banning large sodas is legal and smart”.
Really? Legal and smart? His defense of the indefensible has him channeling Paul Krugman, or at least emulating him.
As I’ve said before, it’s always wise to check the premise on which someone like this operates. In this case, the premise is, as you might expect, flawed and the reasoning thin. It all comes down to a word – “imminent” – and the author’s obvious belief that it is the job of government to save us from ourselves. You have to dig through the article a bit, but here’s where Gostin’s claim of legality comes from:
Admittedly, the soda ban would have been better coming from the city’s elected legislature, the City Council. But the Board of Health has authority to act in cases where there is an imminent threat to health. Doesn’t the epidemic of obesity count as an imminent threat, with its devastating impact on health, quality of life and mortality? In any event, the Board of Health has authority over the food supply and chronic disease, which is exactly what it has used in this case.
Members of the Board of Health, moreover, are experts in public health, entitled to a degree of deference. The fact that the proposal originated in the mayor’s office does not diminish the board’s authority and duty to protect the public’s health. Many health proposals arise from the executive branch, notably the Affordable Care Act.
Uh, no, obesity doesn’t qualify as an “imminent” threat such that a Board of Health can arbitrarily declare something “banned”. Why not king size candy bars? Why not New York cheese cake? Why not a whole plethora of sugar soaked products? Well, if you’re paying attention, I’m sure you’ve realized that if this had flown, such bans were likely not far behind.
But back to Gostin. Here’s his real argument:
First, the ever-expanding portions (think "supersized") are one of the major causes of obesity. When portion sizes are smaller, individuals eat less but feel full. This works, even if a person can take an additional portion. (Most won’t because they are satiated, and it at least makes them think about what they are consuming.) Second, sugar is high in calories, promotes fat storage in the body and is addictive, so people want more. The so-called "war on sugar" is not a culture war, it is a public health imperative backed by science.
So, there is good reason to believe New York’s portion control would work. But why does the city have to prove that it works beyond any doubt? Those who cry "nanny state" in response to almost any modern public health measure (think food, alcohol, firearms, distracted driving) demand a standard of proof that lawmakers don’t have to meet in any other field.
Because we don’t, in his opinion, “demand a standard of proof” from lawmakers in any other field, we shouldn’t, apparently, demand that standard in this field. After all it is a “public health imperative” which is “backed by science”. Where have we heard that before (*cough* global warming *cough*)?
So we shouldn’t ask lawmakers to prove that a) obesity is an imminent threat and b) banning large sodas will defeat that threat? Because that’s certainly the premise.
In fact, we should do precisely the opposite of what Gostin says. We should demand “a standard of proof” from out lawmakers that requires they prove whatever bill they’re contemplating is in fact necessary. Want to ban “assault weapons”. Prove to me that such a ban will “curb gun violence”. Stats seem to indicate it will have no effect. The lapse of the previous ban showed no appreciable increase in gun violence and we’ve seen an overall decrease in violence as a whole.
In this case, the ban Gostin tries to defend and contrary to his headline claims, was neither legal or smart. It was arbitrary and poorly thought out (if it was thought out at all – seems more like it was a capricious act grounded in an inflated belief in the power Mayor Bloomberg thought he had). And according to a NY state judge, it wasn’t legal either.
Of course Gostin tries a transparently obvious bit of nonsense by blaming the failure on “Big Food” and a compliant judge buying into their arguments. It is the usual fall back position for someone who has nothing. And his trump card is to compare the food industry to, you guessed it, the tobacco industry. “Big” anything to do with business or industry is a liberal boogyman invoked when arguments are weak. And Gostin’s is about as weak as they come. His attempt to fob this off on the “usual suspects” is, frankly, laughable.
I note this particular “defense” by Gostin simply to point out that there are people out there, people others consider to be rational and intelligent (and, apparently, who can get things published on CNN) that can rationalize curbing you freedoms and liberties through the use of force (law and enforcement) because they actually believe they know what is best for you and have the right to act on that on your behalf.
What we need to do, quickly, is find a way to dissuade the nannies of the world from that belief. They need to understand that freedom means they’re free to act on what they believe in circumstances like this but they’re not free to decide that others must do it too, because they’ve decided that’s the “smart” thing to do. Freedom means the right to fail, get fat, do stupid things (that don’t violate the rights of others), etc. We’re issued one mother in our lives. And it’s not the state.
As it should:
A state judge on Monday stopped Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s administration frombanning the sale of large sugary drinks at New York City restaurants and other venues, a major defeat for a mayor who has made public-health initiatives a cornerstone of his tenure.
The city is “enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations,” wrote New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling, blocking the rules one day before they would have taken effect. The city’s chief counsel, Michael Cardozo, pledged to “appeal the ruling as soon as possible.”
In halting the drink rules, Judge Tingling noted that the incoming sugary drink regime was “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences” that would be difficult to enforce with consistency “even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole.”
“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of the rule,” the judge wrote. (Read the full text of the ruling.)
Under a first-of-its-kind prohibition approved by the city Board of Health last year, establishments from restaurants to mobile food carts would have been prohibited from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 oz. After a three-month grace period, the city would have started fining violators $200 per sale.
So the nanny gets told “no”.
Does anyone really believe this will stop him?
Or so says the executive branch in many, many cases.
In this particular case, the National Labor Relations Board, NLRB, has simply decided to ignore a ruling of a US Court of Appeals:
Only a few hours after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision that the National Labor Relations Board does not have a legal quorum to act, the board’s chairman, Mark Pearce, issued a press release announcing the board’s intent to ignore it.
The timing and content of Pearce’s statement show a board so fixated on serving the interests of organized labor it no longer knows its place nor weighs the consequences of its actions on the public interest. Although Pearce may believe that the president has the authority to make recess appointments over a three-day break in ongoing Senate sessions — or over lunch, for that matter — it is not the place of the NLRB chairman to disagree with a circuit court on a constitutional question that goes to the heart of the political appointment process and one in which he has a partisan interest.
The answer to that is to ignore the NLRB and anything it says, does or declares.
If they can play that game, so can we.
The imperial “federal” government knows better than you what is good for “the people”:
“This is a symbolic victory for (legalization) advocates, but it will be short-lived,” Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the Obama administration’s drug czar, told reporters.
“They are facing an uphill battle with implementing this, in the face of … presidential opposition and in the face of federal enforcement opposition,” Sabet said.
Because everyone knows we are a country in which state’s rights exist and the people get to decide. And we certainly know prohibition worked extraordinarly well in the 1920s.
Let freedom ring.