While almost all liberals and Democrats are still in denial about the implications of the Benghazi scandal, none of them is choosing to defend the IRS officials who targeted Tea Party groups for investigations that would deny them tax-exempt status. Like the White House, the chattering classes are united in decrying the blatantly illegal actions by what we are told were just low-level IRS employees. But the universal condemnation of these acts doesn’t mean that this administration can shrug this story off as easily as that. The IRS investigations aren’t merely a chilling abuse of power. They go straight to the heart of conservative distrust of Barack Obama’s worldview.
Seven days ago, President Obama went to the Ohio State University to give a commencement address during which he heaped scorn on those who oppose his efforts to expand the power of government….
[T]he problem here is not just that a branch of that government has been caught using their almost unlimited power to harass political opponents of the president. It is … that the president and his cheerleaders in the press have spent the last three years demonizing those targeted by the IRS….
As I wrote on Monday:
The fear of tyranny Obama cited isn’t an invention of the Koch brothers or the Tea Party, it can be found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson and most of the founders. They worried that our “experiment in self-rule” would fail specifically because of over-reaching on the part of the government or a blind obedience to the vagaries of public opinion. Our Constitution was written by men who understood that the key principle of American democracy must be a system of checks and balances that was designed to frustrate people like Obama who want to shove their big ideas about re-engineering our society and government down the throats of the voters. They placed obstacles in the path of such leaders in the form of representative government institutions that are supposed to go slow and invariably give voice to those who are more interested in holding government accountable than in growing it. Supporting this instinct isn’t cynical, nor is it a function of special interests. It is democracy in its purest and most American form.
What I didn’t know on Monday was that the government headed by the president was about to provide us with an egregious example of exactly why Americans should distrust their government. There is a long and dishonorable tradition of using the IRS to target political opponents of the party in power. Such actions were cited in the articles of impeachment of Richard Nixon and it is well known that Franklin Roosevelt played the same game with impunity against those on his own enemy’s list.
But while Nixon and Roosevelt simply went after specific political foes, what we have seen under Obama is an effort to brand all those who question his philosophy as being somehow beyond the pale of decent society. Under those circumstances why wouldn’t government officials and administrators, whom reports now tell us today knew about these abuses as long ago as 2011 and which may go deeper than initially thought, think nothing of putting the screws to those who believe the president has exceeded his powers?
Obviously President Obama and Hillary Clinton are on trial—not before a court, but in the minds of thoughtful people everywhere. It appears (given the limited evidence we have so far) that they were grossly negligent before Benghazi, criminally incompetent that night of the attack, and then that they aided and abetted a conspiracy to lie about the murders—all for the obvious political reasons and because Obama and Clinton (and nearly all their leftist friends) believe that Americans are stone-stupid. But the real trial deals with other suspects.
It is the Democratic Party that’s on trial today and, to a lesser extent, America’s mainstream media. For Democrats (and especially Democratic senators) it is put-up-or-shut-up time: are they Democrats or Americans first? Obviously their first instinct was to defend the Democratic administration. Republicans would have done the same. But starting with the Hayes story on the Rice propaganda points (and the neo-Soviet process that turned them from truth to lies), and then the Issa hearing Wednesday (and a recent ABC news piece focusing again on the phonied-up talking points), no honest observer can fail to suspect this administration of doing unspeakable things. It is Congress’s duty to find out the truth.
How would Republicans act if a GOP administration were under this sort of cloud? We know exactly how. It was the radically partisan Edward Kennedy who proposed that a senate select committee investigate Watergate—but in February 1973, the Senate voted unanimously to create that committee. Republican Senator Howard Baker was vice chairman, and asked the key question: ”What did the president know and when did he know it?” Which Democratic senator will ask that question today, now that the issue isn’t breaking-and-entering but lying about four murders, including the murder of an American ambassador?
Tourists admire the beauty and size of the Washington Monument, April 1935. (by Jacob J. Gayer; via natgeofound)
Shui tiao ko tou
The moon — how old is it?
I hold the cup and ask the clear blue sky
But I don’t know, in palaces up there
When is tonight?
If only I could ride the wind and see —
But no, jade towers
So high up, might be too cold
For dancing with my shadow —
How could there, be like here?
Turning in the red chamber
Beneath the carved window
The brightness baffles sleep
But why complain?
The moon is always full at parting
A man knows grief and joy, separation and reunion
The moon, clouds and fair skies, waxing and waning —
And old story, this struggle for perfection!
Here’s to long life
This loveliness we share even a thousand miles apart!
~Su Tung-Po (via artemisdreaming)
Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907 (via cavetocanvas)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hunters in the Snow, 1565.
It reminds me of a puzzle I had when I was a child. I don’t know the official genre, but I loved the style. (via cavetocanvas)
Apprentice air traffic controllers train with model aircraft at Andrews Air Base in Maryland, March 1957.
Photograph by Robert F. Sisson and Donald McBain, National Geographic
At work today, pilots shared stories of take-offs and landings and wind shear they have known.