Ray Manzarek, keyboardist of The Doors, passed away today of bile duct cancer. He was 74.
Manzarek and Jim Morrison were classmates at the UCLA film school and would form The Doors shortly after graduation in 1965. Guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore were quickly recruited to join the band.
When Morrison began missing live performances, Manzarek would often take over lead vocals as he did with “Soul Kitchen” during a 1968 concert in Amsterdam.
After Morrison died in Paris on July 3, 1971, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore released two more albums as a trio but never replicated their earlier success. They broke up in 1973.
Manzarek occasionally reunited with Krieger and Densmore and spent the past decade touring with Krieger. In the late 1970s, Manzarek front a short lived band called Nite City. He also released six solo albums between 1973 and 2011. Over the years, Manzarek collaborated with the likes of Philip Glass, Iggy Pop and Echo & the Bunnymen.
While Morrison lived fast and died young, Manzarek was a devoted family man who was married to his wife Dorothy for over 45 years. Manzarek is survived by her, two sons and three grandchildren.
Here is an interview Manzarek did a few years back sitting at his keyboard. Manzarek begins the interview by saying, “You don’t make music for immortality. You make music for the moment, for capturing the sheer joy of being alive on Planet Earth.”
But as George Harrison wrote, “All things must pass away.” With that, I leave you with “When The Music’s Over”.
I was out most of the day and did not learn of the devastation of the mile wide tornado in Moore, Oklahoma until about an hour or so ago.
At this point, the casualties are unknown. But a woman who spoke with Bret Baier told him there were children being pulled out from under cars on the roof of an elementary school.
How absolutely awful.
If there’s a silver lining in all of this is that we can be confident that Americans from across the country will donate their time and money to help those devastated by this storm.
UPDATE: The death toll is at 51 and is expected to rise.
The lesson coming out of South Carolina these days seems to be that people don’t like being told what to do by outsiders. South Carolinians know what they believe and outside outrage isn’t going to change that.
We saw it when Mark “I’m Hiking the Appalachian Trail” Sanford beat Elizabeth Colbert Busch by a whopping nine points, despite Sanford losing funding from the NRCC and Colbert-Busch being funneled seemingly endless money from national Democrats.
And we’re seeing it again on the other side of the state. Blue Ridge Christian Academy, a tiny private school in the Appalachian Mountains received endless mockery and criticism from people on the social media site reddit after a fourth-grade quiz on creationism was posted on the site.
As the Greenville News is reporting, the quiz correct answers directly contradicted accepted facts in secular textbooks:
It was labeled “4th grade science quiz. Dinosaurs: Genesis and the Gospel.”
Eighteen questions. The first four were true or false.
The earth is billions of years old. A lopsided pencil mark circled false.
Dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, another circle: false.
It went on from there, testing students on the beginning of the world according to creationism, the belief that the literal interpretation of the first book of the Bible explains it all. Both were marked correct.
With that kind of content, the redditors, most of whom are definitely not from South Carolina, responded with scorn and disdain.
And of course, South Carolinians responded like true South Carolinians. Instead of being angered, people have started donating. Blue Ridge Christian Academy, which was scheduled to close on May 31 due to loss of funding, has received thousands of dollars in donations and continues to get more daily. All of the money might just save the tiny school.
Lesson learned: Leave South Carolinians alone.
Congratulations on your college graduation. I enjoyed your interview on CNN, but would offer one suggestion for your consideration:
You said that you want to go to Washington to learn about Progressive policies.
Why not open your mind to the possibility that actually reaching a good outcome is more important than being able to simply feel good by calling yourself “Progressive.”
After all, decades of Progressive policies have done absolutely nothing for African-Americans, other than destroy black families and force black kids into failing schools. (And then there’s the bipartisan disaster of the drug war’s impact on black Americans.)
It may be fashionable among the left to demonize Republicans or conservatives (I am not a Republican, and I am politically libertarian, not conservative). It may make some people you know feel good to call certain people mean or selfish or racist — without any evidence at all. (And to be sure, I am not suggesting that you would do this yourself, but I guarantee you know people who fit my description.)
But results matter. While “Progressives” spend so much time talking about their good intentions, their results have been a disaster for the most vulnerable in America. Meanwhile, it’s conservatives who fight, for example, for school choice — while Barack Obama once killed the school choice program in Washington, D.C. which was helping thousands of some of the nations neediest (especially needy of a good education) black children because he found it more important to support a teachers’ union. (He has opposed it again since then, while Speaker of the House (Republican) John Boehner fought hard for it.)
You may consider it heresy, but I urge you to open your mind to thinking about “what policies will actually reach the outcome I want?” rather than thinking “what Progressive policy should I support today?”
I would suggest to you that you read “The Law” by Federic Bastiat. It’s great…and it’s short! (You can read it in one sitting.) Indeed, if you send me a mailing address, I’ll gladly send you a copy at my expense. I also recommend “Free to Choose” by Milton Friedman and “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt.
America is not in great need of another smart young black Progressive/liberal. What we need is more smart young black leaders who are willing to think outside of the liberal dogma and actually do things that WORK instead of things which play on people’s worst instincts.
If you’re open to investigating ideas which are smart, effective, and supportive of the best of human instinct, I’d be happy to introduce you to think tanks oriented in that direction in DC. I hope that the results of your college education have not been to permanently install intellectual blinders on your very promising future.
I wish you health, happiness, luck, and prosperity in the next phase of your life.
Ross G Kaminsky
Reporter Elizabeth Flock of U.S. News and World Report, over here in the Washington Whispers column, has discovered the announced purpose of the meeting that drew NTEU president Colleen Kelley to the meeting discussed in today’s special report.
The timing appears fishy, but a closer examination of Kelley’s visit reveals she was visiting the White House to participate in the “Workplace Flexibility Forum,” a March 2010 event that was about the state of flexible work arrangements. According to a April 2010 story in the federal trade worker publication FCW, Kelley spoke at the forum about the benefits of teleworking and other flexible work schedules. FCW reported that the event was hosted by Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. The visitor log also notes that Kelley’s visit took place in the “South Court Auditorium,” a large room in the Old Executive Office Building across from the White House — not exactly a prime location for a private meeting.
Flock also includes this link to an April 2010 story in the online publication FCW:The Business of Federal Technology. Kudos to Flock for nailing down the specific topic of the meeting and the physical location of the meeting in the White House complex.
There is an interesting sentence in Flock’s article. This one:
Kelley’s office didn’t immediately respond to request for more information about her March 2010 appearance, but we will update when we hear back.
Kelley’s office didn’t immediately respond.
We await Kelley’s response.
And we will be back.
Check out my recent interview with Dan Mandis of 850 KOA in Denver, Colorado about all things drone: Legal issues, national security implications, and the robotic aircrafts’ future here at home. The link can be found below. And remember folks, sharing is caring, now in this digital media age more than ever:
If you read one (non-Spectator) article this morning, make it Jillian Kay Melchior’s latest piece over at NRO. Melchior interviews a Texas woman named Catherine Engelbrecht, who, after filing with the IRS for tax-exempt status for two Tea Party groups, was harassed by the IRS…and the FBI and ATF and even OSHA:
In July, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration paid a visit to Engelbrecht Manufacturing while Bryan, Catherine, and their children were out of town. The OSHA inspector talked with the managerial staff and employees, inspecting the premises minutely. But Bryan says the agent found only “little Mickey Mouse stuff, like, ‘You have safety glasses on, but not the right kind; the forklift has a seatbelt, but not the right kind.’” Yet Catherine and Bryan said the OSHA inspector complimented them on their tightly run shop and said she didn’t know why she had been sent to examine it.
Not long after, the tab arrived. OSHA was imposing $25,000 in fines on Engelbrecht Manufacturing. They eventually worked it down to $17,500, and Bryan says they may have tried to contest the fines to drive them even lower, but “we didn’t want to make any more waves, because we don’t know [how much further] OSHA could reach.”
Apparently those “few bad apples” in Cincinnati who the left keeps blaming for the IRS scandal were also wielding omnipotent control over other government agencies.
We already knew this went well beyond the IRS trying to deal with a (nonexistent) surge of new tax-exempt applications. Tea Party groups were completely denied tax-exempt status for 27 months. Sensitive IRS applications were inappropriately leaked to left-wing news outlets. But Melchior’s article suggests something much more extreme than a renegade IRS: a concerted attempt across several government agencies to wage war on the Tea Party.
Now can we please get that special prosecutor?
A 74,000-page tax code that no American citizen can possibly know or understand is the basis for our federal system of taxation. The current IRS scandal is not a bug in the system. Rather, this kind of behavior is a feature, long prized by the Ruling Elite in Washington, D.C. After all, what are the IRS and its byzantine set of laws, rules, and regulations if not instruments of political discrimination and thuggery? They are consistently used by the Ruling Elite to hand out favors to its friends, and punishment to its enemies. This is not a failure, glitch or aberration in the system. This is the system.
The historical documentation is deep and wide. According to James Bovard, writing May 14, 2013 in the Wall Street Journal:
Many Republicans are enraged over revelations in recent days that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative nonprofit groups with a campaign of audits and harassment. But of all the troubles now dogging the Obama administration…the IRS episode, however alarming, is also the least surprising. As David Burnham noted in “A Law Unto Itself: The IRS and the Abuse of Power” (1990), “In almost every administration since the IRS’s inception the information and power of the tax agency have been mobilized for explicitly political purposes.”
And unfortunately, despite our widespread outrage, history does not provide a blueprint for a hopeful outcome of investigation and reform. Bovard continues in the WSJ:
The IRS has usually done an excellent job of stifling investigations of its practices. A 1991 survey of 800 IRS executives and managers by the nonprofit Josephson Institute of Ethics revealed that three out of four respondents felt entitled to deceive or lie when testifying before a congressional committee.
There are those today who are calling for jail time for IRS personnel engaged in the current scandal. Yet I will venture a guess that those front-line employees engaged in the discriminatory activities currently exposed, and those surely yet to be revealed, were acting at the direction of their superiors, and were simply doing their jobs. While the thought may be shocking to us, it shouldn’t surprise us. This is how the IRS operates on a daily basis.
The IRS is the most powerful agency of the federal government, operating outside the bounds of law imposed on the rest of our society. More powerful than the president, they can seize your assets, including the direct withdrawal of money from your bank account, without a court order or any other type of supervision. This is not a mistake. They operate without constraint because Congress has set them up this way. This is virtually absolute power, and you know the truism about absolute power.
The type of abuse we are seeing is the routine business of the IRS—creating misery for innocent people, demanding money, threatening, seizing assets: it’s all in a day’s work for the IRS. Asking ridiculous, intrusive, offensive questions to a group applying for a non-profit status—how is that so terrible compared with the day-to day-fear and abuse imposed by the IRS on a largely defenseless American public?
As for silencing critics, many business people have avoided politics for decades, or simply paid homage to the Ruling Elite via political donations, out of fear of the IRS. It’s a part of our political culture. And it is part of the purpose of the IRS, long supported by a bipartisan consensus of the Ruling Elite.
While I’m all for a full and deep investigation, unfortunately, based on the history of such inquiries, I remain skeptical that we will get it. And I think it may miss the point anyway. I’m in favor of a much deeper look at the IRS.
Really, now is a perfect time for a complete examination of the IRS’s role in America. We ought to have the full discussion, including the idea of eliminating the scourge of the IRS completely, and pushing taxation authority back to the states, where it belong, and where the instruments of enforcement are more easily controlled by the people they are supposed to “serve.” After all, as Daniel Webster said arguing before the Supreme Court in McCulloch v. Maryland, “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy,” 17 U.S. 327 (1819).
Isn’t it time we returned to the liberty that was bequeathed to us by the Founders? And isn’t the IRS, as designed, antithetical to that liberty?
“For me, it’s about collaboration.” — National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley on the relationship between the anti-Tea Party IRS union and the Obama White House
Is President Obama directly implicated in the IRS scandal?
Is the White House Visitors Log the trail to the smoking gun?
The stunning questions are raised by the following set of new facts.
March 31, 2010.
According to the White House Visitors Log, provided here in searchable form by U.S. News and World Report, the president of the anti-Tea Party National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelley, visited the White House at 12:30pm that Wednesday noon time of March 31st.
The White House lists the IRS union leader’s visit this way:
Kelley, Colleen Potus 03/31/2010 12:30
In White House language, “POTUS” stands for “President of the United States.”
The very next day after her White House meeting with the President, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Report, IRS employees — the same employees who belong to the NTEU — set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America. The IG report wrote it up this way:
April 1-2, 2010: The new Acting Manager, Technical Unit, suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases. The Determinations Unit Program Manager Agreed.
In short: the very day after the president of the quite publicly anti-Tea Party labor union — the union for IRS employees — met with President Obama, the manager of the IRS “Determinations Unit Program agreed” to open a “Sensitive Case report on the Tea party cases.” As stated by the IG report.
The NTEU is the 150,000 member union that represents IRS employees along with 30 other separate government agencies. Kelley herself is a 14-year IRS veteran agent. The union’s PAC endorsed President Obama in both 2008 and 2012, and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles to anti-Tea Party candidates.
Putting IRS employees in the position of actively financing anti-Tea Party candidates themselves, while in their official positions in the IRS blocking, auditing, or intimidating Tea Party and conservative groups around the country.
The IG report contained a timeline prepared by examining internal IRS e-mails. The IG report did not examine White House Visitor Logs, e-mails, or phone records relating to the relationship between the IRS union, the IRS, and the White House.
In fact, this record in the White House Visitors Log of a 12:30 Wednesday, March 31, 2010 meeting between President Obama and the IRS union’s Kelley was not unusual.
On yet another occasion, Kelley’s presence at the White House was followed shortly afterwards by the President issuing Executive Order 13522. A presidential directive that gave the anti-Tea Party NTEU — the IRS union — a greater role in the day-to-day operation of the IRS than it had already — which was considerable.
Kelley is recorded as visiting the White House over a year earlier, listed in this fashion:
Kelley, Colleen Potus/Flotus 12/03/2009 18:30
The inclusion of “FLOTUS” — First Lady Michelle Obama — and the 6:30 pm time of the December event on this entry in the Visitors Log indicates this was the White House Christmas Party held that evening and written up here in the Chicago Sun-Times. The Sun-Times focused on party guests from the President’s home state of Illinois and did not mention Kelley. Notably, the Illinois guests, who are reported to have attended the same party as Kelley, included what the paper described as four labor “activists”: Dennis Gannon of the Chicago Federation of Labor, Tom Balanoff of the Service Employees International Union, Henry Tamarin of UNITE, and Ron Powell of the United Food and Commercial Workers.
Six days following Kelley’s attendance at the White House Christmas party with labor activists like herself, the President issued Executive Order 13522 (text found here, with an explanation here). The Executive Order, titled: “Creating Labor-Management Forums To Improve Delivery of Government Services” applied across the federal government and included the IRS. The directive was designed to:
Allow employees and unions to have pre-decisional involvement in all workplace matters….
However else this December 2009 Executive Order can be described, the directive was a serious grant of authority within the IRS to the powerful anti-Tea Party union. A union that by this time already had the clout to determine the rules for IRS employees, right down to who would be allowed a Blackberry or what size office the employee was entitled to. The same union that would shortly be doling out serious 2010 (and later 2012) campaign contributions to anti-Tea Party candidates with money supplied from IRS employees. The union, as noted last week here in this space, already has the authority to decide all manner of IRS matters, right down to who does and does not get a Blackberry.
It is the same union whose IRS employee-members were being urged in 2012 by Senate Democrats (Chuck Schumer, Al Franken, Max Baucus, and others) to target Tea Party and other conservative groups.
Which, as the IG records, they did.
Both Mr. Obama and the NTEU’s Kelley have been by turns evasive and tight-lipped about their roles in the blossoming IRS scandal.
Kelley refused to open up to the Washington Post. In an article titled ”IRS, union mum on employees held accountable in ‘sin’ of political targeting,” the Post quoted the following:
“NTEU is working to get the facts but does not have any specifics at this time. Moreover, IRS employees are not permitted to discuss taxpayer cases. We cannot comment further at this time,” NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said via e-mail.
A call to the NTEU office in Cincinnati resulted in a similar response: “We’ve been directed by national office. We have no comment.”
The President approached things in a more evasive manner.
Last Thursday at the President’s press conference with the Turkish prime minister, Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg News asked the following question, bold print for emphasis:
“Mr. President, I want to ask you about the IRS. Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions before your Counsel’s Office found out on April 22nd? And when they did find out, do you think that you should have learned about it before you learned about it from news reports as you said last Friday? And also, are you opposed to there being a special counsel appointed to lead the Justice Department investigation?”
The President’s response? (Again bold print emphasis.)
“But let me make sure that I answer your specific question. I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press.”
Take note: Goldman’s question was:
“Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions before your Counsel’s Office found out on April 22nd?”
The President evaded by answering:
“I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report…..”
The question was not whether he knew about the IG report ahead of time. The question was whether he could “assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions.”
In response, the President ducked.
In other words, the IRS union chief went to the White House to meet personally with the president on March 31. The union already had Executive Order 13522 behind it, issued by the President barely three months earlier. An Executive Order directing that the IRS must “allow employees and unions to have pre-decisional involvement in all workplace matters….”.
The very next day after that March 31 meeting at the White House, the IRS, with the union involved in its decision-making, was setting up its “Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party.”
Which raises the famous question from Watergate: What did the President know and when did he know it?
While potentially explosive now, in fact the Obama Administration hadn’t been in office a month before Kelley was boasting of the IRS union’s influence in the White House.
In a February 15, 2009 interview given to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh is Kelley’s home town), there was this question from the PG reporter, with the now Washington-based Kelley boasting as below, key point in bold print:
Q: Has the Obama staff been receptive?
A: Yes. We have worked with the transition team, given them suggestions; and throughout the campaign, President Obama talked about working with the federal employees and unions. He’s recognized the contributions federal employees make. I was just at the White House (Jan. 30) while he was signing some executive orders to undo some things the prior administration did.
“I was just at the White House…”
Which is to say, the election of 2008, in which the union had endorsed Obama, was no sooner over than the head of the IRS union had “worked with the transition team” and “given them suggestions.” Literally ten days after the Obama January 20 inaugural in 2009 — January 30 the article notes — Kelley was boasting that “I was just at the White House while he (the President) was signing some executive orders to undo some things the prior administration did.”
And what did Kelley see as the IRS union’s relationship with the White House she had already visited ten days into the President’s first term?
Kelley responded candidly, again with the bold print added for emphasis:
“We are looking for a return to what we used to call partnership. I don’t really care what it’s called. For me, it’s about collaboration.”
Catch those words?
In addition to Kelley’s three visits to see the President — in January of 2009, December of 2009, and March of 2010 — she is listed for three other visits, the contact names those of presidential aides:
“Kelley, Colleen Weiss, Margaret 11/04/2009 10:00”
“Kelley, Colleen Weiss, Margaret 12/01/2009 12:00”
“Kelley, Colleen Nelson, Greg 01/14/2010 13:40”
The obvious question instantly arises with the revelation that Kelley was meeting with the President personally — the day before the IRS kicked into high gear with its “Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party”.
Were the President of the United States and the President of the NTEU meeting in the White House at 12:30 on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 — and engaged in “collaboration” and “partnership”? A “collaboration” and “partnership” that was all about targeting the Tea Party?
And did that collaboration and partnership result in the IRS letting loose the hounds on the Tea Party and conservative groups — the very next day after the Obama-Kelley meeting?
To add to the administration’s IRS-NTEU woes is the fact that beyond the Inspector General, there is another IRS-connected agency in the Treasury Department: the IRS Oversight Board.
And on that board sits a presidential appointee named Robert M. Tobias. Tobias, oddly, was a Clinton appointee in 2005, confirmed by the Senate for a five-year term. He is still there. He is the longtime NTEU general counsel and Kelley’s predecessor as the union president. Here’s the statement, from the IRS Oversight Board, on all of this. It is headed:
IRS Oversight Board Deeply Troubled by Breakdown in IRS Process in Reviewing Tax-Exempt Applications.
There was no reference to the influence of the anti-Tea Party NTEU in the statement. Why would there be when the union’s ex-president sits on the Oversight Board itself?
Obama’s problem here is considerable.
By not forthrightly answering Goldman’s question, he seems to be evading the issue in the manner that brought so much trouble in the form of congressional investigations, special prosecutors, and impeachment threats to Presidents Nixon and Clinton, with Nixon being forced to resign the presidency and Clinton brought to a Senate trial.
The President’s too-clever-by half evasion added to Kelley’s silence leaves open the question of whether the union and the White House, not to mention the IRS Oversight Board, are collaborating — collaborating right now — on a cover-up.
Nixon looked the American people in the television eye and flatly lied about his personal involvement in the Watergate scandal, lies that came from a frantic attempt to conduct a cover-up.
Clinton looked the American people in the eye and famously wagged his finger as he lied that he “did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” In Clinton’s case this extended to lying to a federal grand jury.
For a good long while, the American people in fact believed both Nixon and Clinton. The stories are now legion of Nixon cabinet and staff believing their man, and Clinton’s cabinet and staff believing their man’s protestations of innocence as well.
Finally, in both cases, the truth was out.
As Washington and the country have long since twice-learned the hard way, the parsing of presidential words in cases like this, not to mention looking into the cameras and boldly lying on the prayer of getting away with the lie, always bodes ill for presidents. It leads inevitably to that simple question famously uttered by then-Tennessee GOP Senator Howard Baker and posed of Nixon at the Senate Watergate hearings: “What did the President know and when did he know it?”
Twice in recent American history the answer to this question, once for Nixon and once for Clinton, has landed popular, powerful presidents in impeachment hot water. Ending Republican Nixon’s presidency altogether and coming close to doing the same with Democrat Clinton. Leaving the legacy of each permanently scarred.
The notion that the players in the IRS scandal did what they did to get past the 2012 election will only add to an Obama presidential reputation as borrowing the Nixon playbook on skirting scandal in a presidential election year.
Ironically re-casting the image of America’s first black president as the black Nixon.
With the examples of how Nixon and Clinton dodged, evaded, and lied, Obama’s non-answer to Juliana Goldman’s question at last week’s press conference comes in for much more scrutiny. Matched to the silence of Kelley it begins raising obvious questions. Such as:
• Did the President himself ever discuss the Tea Party with Kelley?
• Did the President ever communicate his thoughts on the Tea Party to Kelley — in any fashion other than a face-to-face conversation such as e-mail, text, or by phone?
• What was the subject of the Obama-Kelley March 31, 2010 meeting?
• Who was present at the Obama-Kelley March 31 meeting?
• Was the Tea Party or any other group opposing the President’s agenda discussed at the March 31 meeting, or before or after that meeting?
• Is the White House going to release any e-mails, text, or phone records that detail Kelley’s contacts with not only Mr. Obama but his staff?
• Will the IRS release all e-mail, text, or phone records between Kelley or any other leader of the NTEU with IRS employees?
• What role did Executive Order 13522 play in the IRS investigations of the Tea Party and all these other conservative groups?
Doubtless there are others, considerable others and the list of questions will grow.
Not to be lost sight of here is the role of the NTEU in raising money for Democrats in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles — the exact period when the IRS was busy going after the Tea Party and the others to curb any possible influence the groups could have in the elections of 2010 and 2012.
The NTEU, through its political action committee, raised $613,633 in the 2010 cycle, giving 98% of its contributions to anti-Tea Party Democrats. In 2012 the figure was $729,708, with 94% going to anti-Tea Party candidates. One NTEU candidate after another, as discussed last week in this space, campaigned vigorously against the Tea Party.
So the motivations here — defeating the Tea Party in 2010, and failing at that, making sure that the news of the metastasizing cancer in the IRS was kept quiet until after the 2012 presidential election was over — are clear.
What is particularly interesting here are the automatic assumptions of the mainstream media in all of this.
Like this “given” from the Washington Post’s Dan Balz, bold print added for emphasis.
The most corrosive of the controversies is what happened at the IRS, which singled out tea party and other conservative groups for special scrutiny in their applications for tax-exempt status. That Obama knew nothing about it does little to quell concerns that one of the most-feared units in government was operating out of control.
But if in fact the President did know about it?
Here’s the Washington Post’s “Journolist” Ezra Klein:
The crucial ingredient for a scandal is the prospect of high-level White House involvement and wide political repercussions.…
If new information emerges showing a connection between the Determination Unit’s decisions and the Obama campaign, or the Obama administration, it would crack this White House wide open. That would be a genuine scandal. But the IG report says that there’s no evidence of that. And so it’s hard to see where this one goes from here.
Which is why it will be a curious sight indeed to see the efforts the media will go to ignore/dismiss the tight, on-the-record connection between the President personally and a vociferously anti-Tea Party union. A union that has the literal run of the IRS — and whose union chief is recorded as having met with the President in the White House the day before the IRS launched “a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases.” A decision with which, according to the IG report: “The Determinations Unit Program Manager Agreed.” Check those words from Mr. Klein again:
If new information emerges showing a connection between the Determination Unit’s decisions and the Obama campaign, or the Obama administration, it would crack this White House wide open. That would be a genuine scandal.
The question now is a simple one.
In 1974, “the smoking gun” was a tape recording that ended the Nixon presidency.
In 1998, the smoking gun was a blue dress — and it almost undid Bill Clinton’s White House.
Now the all-too-familiar pattern of scandal and its day-by-day drip-drip-drip nature has begun to set in. Newsmax is now quoting Washington attorney and conservative activist Cleta Mitchell as saying:
“There were nearly 100 groups across the country that got the very egregious set of letters from the IRS that were almost identical and they came from offices all over the country, so I know of at least 85 to 90, maybe more, organizations.”
Regular American all over the country are coming forward with their stories. Understanding the relationship between the Obama White House and the IRS union will be a must for congressional investigators.
President Obama is coming perilously closer to becoming the new Nixon. The next Bill Clinton.
And once again, as news of exactly what a president was doing in the Oval Office on a particular day and time goes public, yet again the old question becomes new.
What did the President know? And when did he know it?
As gratifying as it was to see the “news” media actually do its job last week when the IRS scandal broke, it was also odd that the coverage focused exclusively on abuses of power relating to various Tea Party and anti-abortion groups. A much scarier IRS story has been virtually ignored by the establishment press. On Wednesday, it was reported that a class-action lawsuit had been filed against a group of IRS agents who, according to the complaint filed by “John Doe Company” in the Southern District of California, “stole more than 60,000,000 medical records of more than 10,000,000 Americans, including at least 1,000,000 Californians.”
Before I get to the feature of this case that will really scare the pants off you, a little more background: This tawdry tale began in 2011 with an IRS investigation concerning one former employee of “John Doe Company” pursuant to which a search warrant was obtained. This warrant didn’t authorize the seizure of anyone’s medical records, but the IRS agents “threatened to ‘rip’ the servers containing the medical data out of the building if IT personnel would not voluntarily hand them over.” They proceeded to seize the records “without making any attempt to segregate the files from those that could possibly be related to the search warrant.”
The leadership of “John Doe Company” attempted to make the IRS people understand that they had violated at least one federal law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), and that “unreasonable searches and seizures” violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The agents were unimpressed. As the complaint phrases it, “After being put on notice of the illicit seizure, the IRS agents refused to return the records, continued to keep the records for the prying eyes of IRS peeping toms, and keep the records to this very day.” The IRS also refuses to reveal who has seen the records or where they are located.
It would seem pretty obvious that this is another abuse of power by the IRS at least as serious as the abuses that dominated the news all last week. Thus far, though, only conservative and libertarian publications have afforded it serious attention. Why so much focus on one story and none on the other? It’s those two words, “medical records.” The MSM is attempting to build a firewall between the IRS scandal and Obamacare. This is why the mainstream outlets are publishing so many columns and blog posts, like this one by Jonathan Cohn, assuring us that attempts to link the IRS scandal with Obamacare are “laughable.”
In reality, of course, they are inextricably linked. And not merely because the IRS can, as Cohn himself puts it, “use its power to pry into individual medical records or otherwise invade personal liberty.” They are linked because Obamacare and the President’s second most ill-conceived domestic initiative, the “stimulus” package, mandated that every health care provider in the country adopt the very technology, electronic health records (EHR), which renders such abuse possible. Before these mandates, it wasn’t possible to steal 60 million confidential records from any single entity except from the federal government itself.
This brings us to the most ironic feature of our government-mandated EHR technology. The system most frequently promoted by “reformers” during the health care debate was VistA, a system that had been implemented by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Thus, the technology mandated by Obamacare was largely inspired by VistA. But, as it happens, the most notorious medical record theft in history involved the VA. As CNN reported at the time, “The names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of about 26.5 million active duty troops and veterans were on the laptop and external drive, which disappeared while in the custody of a Veterans Affairs data analyst …”
You will note that the person from whom these records were stolen was not a doctor or a nurse, but a data analyst who was carrying around huge amounts of medical information on a laptop. And this is where you should begin to have real fears for your privacy. Your medical records, once the province of highly trained medical professionals, are now routinely accessed by all manner of individuals uninvolved in your medical treatment. And many of these individuals are not closely supervised by medical professionals. Indeed, many of the people who have access to your medical records are not supervised by anyone.
For example, if you visit the ER tonight, the hospital will send a claim to your insurance company. Before that happens, however, a diagnosis code must be assigned to your record. Who does that? Typically, it is someone in her pajamas who uses a laptop to remote into the hospital’s IT system from home after the kids are in bed. She is not a physician or a nurse, yet she peruses your records, interprets your doctor’s notes, and then chooses an ICD-9 code from a drop-down box. It is likely that no one employed at the hospital has ever met this person in the flesh. Hospitals increasingly connect with such contract coders via outside agencies.
Assuming this coder is completely honest and very productive, as are most of them, what happens if her eldest son is addicted to narcotics and knows that she has routine access to the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of thousands of people? He has a golden opportunity to commit identity theft. All he has to do is wait until she forgets to lock her screen when she gets up to toss a casserole into the oven or run to the bathroom. If he is computer savvy, and what adolescent isn’t, he can access and steal your information in a matter of minutes. Such opportunities arise every minute of every day, all across the nation.
The point here is not that electronic medical records are inherently bad. It is rather that, in their mad rush to pass Obamacare and the stimulus package, the President and his accomplices on Capitol Hill mandated clunky, insecure systems that can be abused by politicized government agencies, mismanaged by innocent but incompetent bureaucrats, or even breached by the kid next door. At the same time, they augmented the already-immense power of the IRS exponentially. Thus, Jonathan Cohn and anyone else who pretends that the IRS scandals have no implications for Obamacare is either delusional or dishonest.
Last week’s revelations concerning that agency’s treatment of Tea Party and anti-abortion groups demonstrates that the IRS is sufficiently corrupt to abuse its power. And its theft of 60 million medical records shows that it is also eminently able to invade the privacy of any American. I’ll conclude, then, with a little more food for thought: The class action lawsuit filed by John Doe Company involves 10 million patients, “roughly one out of every twenty-five adult American citizens.” And, since only 10 percent of the affected patients reside in California, the rest are obviously scattered across the nation. Are you one of the other 9 million?
How much longer will we have to fight the war on terrorism? Last week the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Michael Sheehan, told a Senate hearing that “I think it’s at least ten or twenty years.” Wow. What a relief. Well, not really. Given the fact that we’ve been at it for over twelve years (seventeen if you start with bin Laden’s 1996 declaration of war against America), Sheehan clearly meant ten or twenty more years.
The answer to “How long shall we fight a war?” used to be answered simply: until we win. But nothing is uncomplicated, nothing fails to require careful parsing of words with the Obama regime at the helm.
Before we do anything else, we have to clarify the question posed to Sheehan not only to understand it, but to devise a policy that is most likely to achieve an answer that’s favorable to us. Which brings us to the concept of “outcome-based warfare.”
At its simplest, outcome-based warfare begins with the end: What do you want the world to look like when you’re done? That requires us to divorce ourselves from Obama’s most prominent national security doctrine: deadlines.
Deadlines and schedules are always arbitrary. Wars don’t begin on an immutable schedule or by accident. They begin when some ideology (or, as in Islam, an ideology passing itself off as a religion) or nation decides that its advantages make victory more likely than defeat. And they don’t end by accident either. They end when one belligerent (or alliance of belligerents) gets it through its thick heads that it’s been defeated. Not before.
For at least three reasons, if Sheehan were truthful, he’d have answered “I’m damned if I know” to the “how long” question. First, Obama & Co. have no vision of how the world should look after the war against terror. They can’t even define the enemy, for to do so correctly would reverse too many of their political calculations. Second, America hasn’t had, for at least eight or ten years, a process that would craft the defense and intelligence budgets in a manner designed to produce victory in this war. Third — and definitely not last — the enemy gets a vote in deciding when the war is over: he has to understand that he is defeated.
To answer the first question may be to answer them all, but let’s take the first issue first. It’s not at all clear that Obama accepts the concept of victory in this war despite the fact that victory is achievable. The Obama regime has no concept of victory. The president has said he’s not about achieving it. And our allies have no concept of it either. Even the Israelis give no evidence of understanding, apparently being focused on survival rather than victory.
Let’s not be Pollyannaish. We can, by decapitating their leaders and investing so much in intelligence to blanket most of the globe, kill the terrorists faster than they can recruit people (and killing them does dampen the enthusiasm of even the most rabid recruit). But that will not return us to a 9-11-01 status quo ante.
As I wrote on that horrible morning, our enemies are both the terrorist groups and the nations that sponsor them. So far, in twelve years of war, Iran remains untouched. And to mention just a few others, Saudi Arabia’s terror funding continues, Syria is destabilized and soon to be dominated by Assad again or by other terrorists, and free-range terrorists — including al Qaeda — are everywhere from Libya to Somalia to Mali to Yemen and so on ad infinitum.
To name just a few terrorist groups, the Muslim Brotherhood has put paid to the idea of Obama’s “Arab Spring” bringing democracy to the Arab world. Al Qaeda founder bin Laden is still dead but his organization is still very much alive in Iraq, Libya, and so many other nations. Hezbollah is armed with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles that threaten Israel. Its tentacles are spreading, now to Syria and elsewhere. Venezuela is hosting Hezbollah terror training camps, according to credible reports too numerous to mention.
So even with an enormous investment in intelligence, we would be left with the idea Vichy John Kerry had in his 2004 presidential campaign, some sort of a terrorist “overwatch” to keep an eye on terrorist groups and presumably blow them up whenever two or more of them should gather. But that, too, is not victory.
Victory means that Islamic terrorism — now and for the foreseeable future — could not cross international borders. That is the outcome at which our outcome-based warfare should be aimed. If Islam will keep its wars to itself, we have no quarrel with it. Otherwise, it is our duty to make war on everything the enemy holds dear both kinetically and ideologically. As I’ve written here often, we cannot defeat the terrorists and their sponsors without demonstrating to the world the bankruptcy of their ideology.
Which means we need not only shed Obama’s dedication to deadlines but we also have to get rid of the idea that Islam and its doctrines are beyond criticism, mockery, and everything else we value as free speech. But this isn’t only a First Amendment question. It has to be a primary goal in our outcome-based warfare.
In the same context as Obama’s cluelessness about how long we need to fight is how we’re going to do it. Which brings up the Pentagon and intelligence budgets.
As I’ve written time and time again, we’ve been guessing at what our defense budget should be. And now we’re doing something worse. We’re not even asking how much we should be spending on defense; we’re letting Obama and Chuckie Hagel set the Pentagon budget not in terms of what we need, but only in terms of what they think should be cut.
The result is a growing mismatch in capabilities and forces. As I wrote here about two weeks ago, Obama’s cuts are resulting in 12 or 13 Air Force squadrons being grounded for the rest of the fiscal year. What is true of Air Force squadrons is true of all other assets throughout the services.
Last year we gave too short shrift to the question of which missions we’d sacrifice to the budget cutters. Now it’s apparently too late. Which missions are being sacrificed in favor of others? Too many ships are held in port, too many squadrons of fighters, bombers, and tankers are grounded. Like the helter-skelter budget cuts, there’s no plan or rationale for which missions we’re cutting. And that makes planning for our outcome-based warfare an illusion. You simply cannot do it.
And that, with an unaccustomed awkwardness (unaccustomed before Obama, that is), we come to the last question. How can the enemy be convinced that it is defeated?
In short, if we continue on this path he cannot. There is no reason for the terrorist groups and their nation-state sponsors to believe they have been defeated while we daintily decline to even think about winning. They watch, amused, while Obama fusses and fumbles to determine how little defense we can get away with. They haven’t, since 9/11, been able to bring a massive-casualty attack inside our shores. But they can and will dream of the day when they can do it again, and they will.
Which means, in the end, that there is no foreseeable end to this war while Obama’s policies prevail. Ten years, twenty, or a hundred years from now we will still be at war. Unless we have, by then, been defeated.
Other gems included “Max Baucus regrets,” “A massive failure,” “Rammed down throats” and the extremely uncomfortable proof of Godwin’s Law, “Arbeit. Macht. Frei.”
Liberal participation brought “Win for kids,” “Republicans suck balls,” “Republicans hate me” (a nice reminder of how liberals take everything personally), and — stated without any sense of irony by a “dreamer, dancer, organic food eater” — “Free birth control.”
The White House, never shy to jump into social media, responded with a flurry of tweets, including “It’s. The. Law.” which smacked, more than anything, of typical Obama chest-thumping.
Is the administration sure they want to aggressively take credit for a law which, for almost the entire three years since its passage, has had more Americans supporting its repeal than supporting the law itself and which, according to Rasmussen Reports polling group, is now “more unpopular than it has been for months”? In the most recent survey, “very unfavorable” opinions of Obamacare nearly tripled those whose view of the law is “very favorable.”
The current IRS scandal will only add to the law’s unpopularity as opponents (of both the law and the IRS) remind Americans that “rogue” bureaucrats could be responsible for enforcing Obamacare’s individual mandate and determining eligibility for health care subsidies. As if a visit to the proctologist weren’t unpleasant enough, it will be followed up by the financial equivalent by the IRS, and apparently with particular lack of gentleness if you happen to be a Republican.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) have been inspired to introduce the Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013 (H.R. 2009), which is being supported by pro-liberty groups such as FreedomWorks. Congressman Price put it this way: “When it comes to an individual’s personal health care decisions, no American should be required to answer to the IRS — an agency that just forfeited its claim to a reputation of impartiality. It has always been an untenable and unacceptable scenario, and we ought to take this common sense step to take the IRS out of health care.”
Over the past week, Democrat politicians and some media lackeys (but with the AP scandal, fewer than there might normally have been) have attempted to at least partially justify the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups by saying that it was a reasonable reaction to the ruling in Citizens United, in which the Supreme Court removed most limits on independent political expenditures by organizations.
President Obama mischaracterized the ruling in his 2010 State of the Union address, prompting the famous mouthing of “not true” by Justice Samuel Alito.
As blogger Dr. John notes, Obama has even tried to use the SEC to gut the impact of Citizens United, following through on his tyrannical promise: “And where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves.”
So we know where the left is getting this from…straight from the top.
According to this administration, conservatives must go along with Obamacare because “It’s. The. Law.” But, say Democrats, the IRS was somewhat justified in targeting Americans because of their political beliefs since Citizens United, in their opinion, created bad law.
They also suggest that Citizens United brought “tax abusers” out of the woodwork, a claim for which they have not a shred of evidence. Rather, they are simply implying that Tea Party organizations and other groups that oppose policies of the Obama administration are cheaters and liars. To paraphrase my 7-year old daughter, it takes a tax cheat to know one, doesn’t it, Charlie Rangel?
Perhaps liberals don’t notice that everything Republicans have done in opposition to Obamacare has been through the legal and political processes, that is through litigation and legislation; nothing (at least nothing I’m aware of) about the way the GOP and anti-Obamacare activists are trying to undo the current and future harm of Obamacare is either illegal or unethical by any objective standard.
Opposition to Obamacare is done in the bright light of day; indeed, from the “sunlight is the best disinfectant” school of politics, opponents of the law believe that their position is enhanced by maximizing the public’s understanding of the harm it will cause.
This stands in stark contrast to how Democrats passed Obamacare, with every legislative trick in the book, even threatening to “deem and pass” a bill that they never actually voted on, while Nancy Pelosi infamously informed Americans that we had to “pass it to find out what is in it.”
Their reprehensible behavior continued unabated — until last week. Democrats, playing follow-the-(Dear)-leader, deal with a law they don’t like not by working to change or repeal it, since they know they don’t have the votes — probably not even in the Senate — but rather to scheme and cheat and “punish our enemies” through the shenanigans of whispering bureaucrats and hyper-partisan political hacks whose names we will likely learn in coming days.
So let’s get back to “It’s. The. Law.”
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) hit the nail on the head in his opening statement at the committee’s Friday morning hearing on the IRS scandal: “Trimming a few branches will not solve the problem when the roots of the tree have gone rotten. And, that is exactly what has happened with our entire tax system — it is rotten at the core, and it must be ripped out so we can start fresh. Only then will the American people get a tax system that treats them fairly and honestly, as they deserve.”
We have laws which, like Obamacare, were created by special interests and obedient or gullible members of Congress, some well-meaning and some simply using the power of government to reward their friends or increase their own power. Like Obamacare, much of what’s in the tax code is unknown to the vast majority of us, even to those politicians who voted for it.
It is time — past time — for a full frontal assault on big government, on the tax code, on Obamacare, on the power of the IRS, EPA, FCC, NLRB, and the multitudinous other alphabet soup of services, agencies, commissions, and boards that taxpayers have the privilege of funding so that they can bleed us of our wealth and freedom.
It’s true that sensible legislation in this direction has no chance in the Democrat-controlled Senate nor with our current president, who disdains every aspect of the American Founders’ vision of a republic whose citizens have a birthright of liberty.
But the Obama administration’s multiple simultaneous scandals, particularly the IRS targeting fiasco, offer the greatest opportunity in many years — perhaps greater even than the passage of Obamacare or the failed “stimulus” — to make moderate and independent Americans, those whom Rush Limbaugh derisively calls “low information voters” — think about the true nature of government and their relationship to it.
It shouldn’t take much more persuading to get at least a few of them to default to supporting the party that, at least in theory, supports reducing the size, cost, and intrusiveness of government. And with elections as close as many we’ve seen in the past decade, a few such voters might be all that is needed to swing the pendulum of government control away from the Alinskyite left that now dominates the Democratic Party leadership.
Passing rational, pro-free market, liberty-restoring legislation will not be easy, even if Republicans control Congress and the White House. But it’s the only chance we have to repeal Obamacare, reform the tax code, or rein in the explosion of regulation.
Then, when a liberal asks why Americans should be able to have a Health Savings Account, or fund groups critical of politicians we disagree with, or generate electricity with whatever fuel makes the most economic sense, or refuse to provide “free birth control” (whether because it offends our religious convictions or because what we insurance we purchase is a matter for private negotiation not government intervention), we’ll be able to respond “It’s.The.Law.”
(Revised and Updated)
Over a pleasant weekend here in The Nation’s Only Boom Town, the avalanche of awful disclosures about the Internal Revenue Service continued with no end in sight. These developments are revealing, not only about the current administration but also about the imperious behavior of the federal government generally. Below I mention some salient facts, raise a simple question, suggest the obvious answer and the conclusion that flows from it, and offer a modest proposal for dealing with the IRS in a corrective manner.
In addressing the pervasive IRS targeting of conservative organizations and their supporters, the President and his administration have paid lip service to the notion of “fixing” the problem, initially promising action “if” it turned out that misconduct had occurred. From the outset, the President denied he knew the IRS was systematically targeting his political opposition until he learned of it though press reports last week, despite widespread reporting on the issue last year and notwithstanding that the White House counsel had been informed at least weeks earlier. (A satirical report in the New Yorker even had the President denying any involvement in the federal government over the past four years!)
Marching in step, assorted administration minions — most notably the loyal former Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller, in congressional testimony on Friday — denied that the systematic harassment of conservative groups was “partisan,” and denied that the IRS engaged in “targeting” despite the use of that term no fewer than 16 times in the IRS Inspector General’s Report. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, whose department oversees the IRS, insisted that the targeting of conservative groups was “inadvertent.”
On Sunday, May 19, the New York Times published a lengthy article that sought to steer the story back to the administration narrative: A sad tale of unsupervised bureaucrats, lacking much in the way of guidance, who just happened to respond to “be on the lookout” orders (from somewhere) with a plan to “triage” applicants in a way that flagged “virtually every” group with “tea party” or “patriot” or “we the people” in its name. And by the way, they also singled out organizations that were concerned about “federal spending” and that had among their missions “educating on the Constitution.”
The Times also reveals that, despite the claimed confusion, lack of guidance, and “miscommunication” within the IRS, the agency’s staffers, “specialists” in “Cincinnati and elsewhere” — apparently entirely on their own — “began sending out exhaustive, sometimes intrusive questionnaires” to the groups singled out for “special scrutiny.” Alas, too, some applications got lost in the bureaucratic shuffle and were “ignored for months.” And there were only so many months until November 2012, so delay surely derailed the plans of many groups.
Denials and distractions aside, the facts themselves make crystal clear the deliberate, partisan, and systematic nature of this undertaking. According to news reports, in 27 months not one single “tea party” organization was granted tax-exempt status, while progressive groups (including the Barack H. Obama Foundation, run by the President’s half-brother) generally sailed through the process, often on an expedited basis. To first year law students these facts would bring to mind the term, “res ipsa loquitur” — the thing speaks for itself, so there is no need for further proof. Still, tidal waves of further proof are rolling in, as victims come forward to describe their harassment and intimidation at the hands of the Obama IRS. Even the New York Times mentioned a few of these, and acknowledged that a number of IRS employees were “skeptical” that all of this occurred without “some direction from leadership in Washington.”
So, what about the President’s promise to hold people “accountable,” one might ask? Well, consider this: Sarah Hall Ingram, the woman who oversaw the program, received bonuses that were unusually high (by the relevant federal standards) during the period when the program was implemented. And now, presumably as a reward for her role in the intimidation of the opposition, Ms. Ingram has been promoted and put in charge of the IRS’s enforcement of the “Obamacare” statute. I guess that’ll teach her to use her agency’s power improperly for political ends!
Meanwhile, in his congressional testimony (which I watched), Mr. Miller refused to provide any names of those involved. He came to the hearing intentionally uninformed, and was visibly smug and defiant as he gave answers that served only to obfuscate. Lest we missed the point that the administration is unrepentant, the White House spokesman on the May 19 Sunday talk shows, Dan Pfeiffer, said the law was “irrelevant,” that this is not an “actual real scandal,” and that we needn’t concern ourselves with what happened, now that the President is focused on how to “fix” what went wrong. Nothing to see here, move along.
In addition, the Washington Post reportedin an article on Saturday, May 18, that Mr. Miller said the IRS has 140 to 200 people who work on applications for tax-exempt status. Presumably a sizable subset of these folks were charged with carrying out the targeting of conservative groups that occurred over the past couple of years. In a separate article on the same page, one IRS staffer was quoted saying that all orders “come from the top,” that people at the staff level “don’t have any authority to make those decisions” without “a directive.” Another agent added that, in this case, “more complex applications” were “elevated” from Cincinnati to Washington.
One IRS lawyer told the New York Times that it would be “tragic to see the IRS debilitated” by this matter because “its work is too important.” He expressed concern about a “witch hunt” that might cause low level IRS employees to be “too intimidated to enforce the tax code.” On the other hand, his views on the IRS’s intimidation of law abiding citizens, and the agency’s debilitation of political opposition to the administration, were not reported. Perhaps that was not news fit to print.
My question is this: Where are the honest, impartial IRS personnel who had the integrity to be shocked and angered by this overtly partisan attack on political speech, and who spoke up and demanded that it stop? And where are the lawyers in this very lawyer heavy agency, professionals bound by codes of ethics, who said not on my watch, this is improper? What are the names of these people, so that we may hear their stories and learn why nothing was done, well, at least not until after the administration’s political objectives were accomplished?
The answer, as best I can tell from media reports, is: Not a single person came forward. No IRS employees, and no IRS lawyers, said, “Wait a minute, this targeting is a very serious, unethical, inappropriate, and illegal attack on the exercise of first amendment rights; we should not be doing this.” Perhaps we’ll hear more in the future, but for now, all we have is implausible claims (as reported in the New York Times article) that this all occurred mysteriously and spontaneously, in some flyover country, third tier office in Cleveland.
The conclusion I draw from the answer is sobering: Honesty, integrity, and impartiality are in seriously short supply at the Internal Revenue Service. If you think this is too harsh a judgment, I refer you to the testimony of Mr. Miller before Congress on Friday, which offers substantial (albeit probably unintentional) corroborating evidence in support of my conclusion. Again, res ipsa loquitur.
The prescription I offer comes in two parts, one of a remedial, “hold accountable” nature, and the other a forward looking, preventive measure.
First, as a remedial measure, every IRS employee involved in the targeting of conservative groups, even if the involvement was limited to following instructions from “the top,” should be fired. And their superiors (yes, most emphatically including one Sarah Hall Ingram) should be fired as well, for they are responsible and should not be saved by the dodge of “deniability.”
Sympathy for the IRS people who carried out this scheme is not appropriate. Remember, these are all people who, although legally obligated to enforce the law in an even handed manner, have proved themselves willing to participate or acquiesce in the use of governmental power to harass and intimidate American citizens simply because they disagree with this administration. These are people who should never work at the IRS or anywhere else in government. They are certainly identifiable; they should be fired immediately, and barred for life from government employment of any sort.
Second, Congress should enact a flat tax. Properly designed, this could eliminate the IRS’s power to grant exemptions from taxes to some citizens and groups, while persecuting others. Such a reform, ideally, would leave little or nothing in the tax code to politicize. It would also simplify enforcement and permit the dramatic downsizing of the IRS, which clearly cannot be trusted with even a fraction of the power it now wields.
ONLY ONE YEAR INTO his presidency, François Hollande, France’s bland, indecisive, but stubbornly doctrinaire socialist leader, is already setting records. Admittedly they are not the sort of milestones that the French were hoping for when they voted him into office last May, preferring an insipid Monsieur Normal, as he marketed himself, to the aggressive, hyperactive Nicolas Sarkozy. Based on his campaign pledges, they were hoping Hollande, a career political hack, could rein in the country’s metastasizing unemployment, kickstart growth and consumption with redistributive, soak-the-rich tax policies, and deal with the divisive debate over homosexual marriage in an equitable way. “Change now” was his slogan.
What they have gotten is change for the worse: unprecedented unemployment, crushing taxes, a runaway budget deficit, zero growth, and a society rent by the unresolved issue of same-sex marriage. It makes for an explosive mix in a land known for the unpredictable volatility of its citizens. With a poisonous pall of disappointment and rising anger hanging over the land, the dark national mood resembles a collective nervous breakdown; significantly, France is now the world’s largest user of anti-depressants and ranks number two in alcohol consumption. Some political analysts are beginning to worry that the center cannot hold. They sense a whiff of bloody-minded insurrection in the air.
They point to things like Hollande’s record-breaking plunge in popularity. Two out of three citizens—68 percent—are disappointed in him, making him the most disliked president after a year in office in modern French history. (Buyer’s remorse: Polls show a comfortable majority would vote for Sarkozy if an election were held today.) They see public enthusiasm for the months-old military operation in Mali weakening after an initial bump of support, as the number of French soldiers killed in action climbs, their mission in the rocky fastness of the Sahel lengthens, and Hollande articulates no credible exit strategy. Perhaps most seriously, they see Hollande’s credibility irretrievably crippled by the resignation last month of his budget minister, Jérôme Cahuzac—responsible for French belt-tightening and cracking down on tax evasion—who confessed that for years he’d had well-filled illegal bank accounts in Switzerland and Singapore.
Hollande is losing support even among socialist voters and politicians, including the far left that initially backed him. Like the conservative opposition, they see him as mou, weak and soft, vacillating on issues that demand strong leadership. Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front party recently came within a few points of winning a special election, as disgusted socialist voters turned away from the party. One socialist mayor, exasperated by the five disastrous special elections since Hollande came to power, publicly attacked the president’s limp-wristed style. “He has to stop making these technocratic speeches that nobody understands,” he said. “When you’re president, you size up the country’s problems and you take action.”
Hollande’s recent timid attempts to win over public opinion have flopped. After he did an hour-long Q&A on television this spring to explain his policies, 68 percent of viewers judged him “unconvincing.” Hand-shaking tours of the provinces similarly have come to naught, eliciting more jeers than cheers as harried security agents grappled with hecklers to get them out of camera range. One woman in a Dijon crowd even embarrassingly lectured him on his love life, advising him not to marry his live-in mistress, Valéry Trierweiler, “because we don’t like her.”
What they really don’t like is the economic pain as France slips into full-fledged recession. Unemployment, now near an all-time record of some 3.2 million, or almost 11 percent, has risen every month for the last two years. In response, Hollande doggedly keeps repeating the delusive mantra that he will, somehow, given enough time, reverse the unemployment curve by the end of this year. “We are living through a veritable economic and social catastrophe,” editorializes Le Figaro. Some recall President Georges Pompidou’s ominous prediction in the early 1970s: “If we ever reach 500,000 jobless in France, there will be a revolution.”
With the budget deficit running a catastrophic 4.8 percent of GDP—Hollande had promised to bring that down to the EU-mandated 3 percent—government coffers are empty. This despite nearly $40 billion in new taxes. With today’s total tax take of over 44 percent of GDP, France is the most heavily taxed country in Euroland, maybe in the industrialized world. The tax burden hits everyone one way or another, but especially businesses and the middle class. One result is that cash-strapped companies have to put investment on hold. As the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has put it diplomatically in a report on France, “high levels of taxation are gradually eroding its competitiveness.”
A symbol of the tax squeeze on individuals has been Hollande’s purely ideological, class-warfare proposal of a 75 percent tax on income over $1.3 million. The Constitutional Court ruled that was confiscatory and unlawful, but France’s affluent citizens got the point: The socialists were out to punish them and would find a way to do it. They were right. Hollande has now decreed that the 75 percent tax will be paid not by individuals, but by the companies that employ them. It’s a brilliantly perverse stroke that boosts his socialist street cred: He not only soaks the rich indirectly (French companies now will hesitate to pay their executives top dollar), but he also strikes at hated business profits and discourages entrepreneurship. If that has the unfortunate side effect of further weakening the economy, at least it’s textbook socialism.
THE EXODUS OF WEALTHY French citizens has become epidemic. No official statistics exist, but it’s estimated that about 10 “fiscal exiles” leave the country every month to escape rising income and wealth taxes. To make sure they take a last hit before they go, the government has instituted an exit tax levied on the “latent capital gains” of portfolios worth over $1.7 million. In only nine months last year, some 250 such tax declarations were made, but tax lawyers and other consultants say the real number of emigrés is much higher. One sign is the acceleration of high-end home sales in places like Paris and its prosperous suburb of Neuilly, where the number of sold properties worth more than $2 million is up by as much as 75 percent within the last year. A notary who advises these refugees from socialism told me their flight reminds him of the massive 17th-century emigration of persecuted Huguenot Protestants.
The tout Paris chatters about the latest big names to exit, like prominent sports figures (scarcely a professional football or tennis player maintains a residence in France), Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man, and the families of businessmen who created some of the country’s most successful retail outlets like Carrefour and Darty. Then there is the spectacular case of actor Gérard Depardieu.
Having amassed a fortune not only through roles in hit movies but also by canny investments in land and real estate, Depardieu has not been shy about why he left last year for Belgium, where he bought a home and set up a holding company, and Russia, where he was welcomed with a passport by Vladimir Putin. Having paid, by his own calculation, some $190 million in taxes over the last 45 years, he wrote a letter to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, explaining that he was surrendering his French passport because “you think that success, creativity, talent…should be punished.” But he didn’t leave only for financial reasons. The man who embodied the country’s romantic hero Cyrano de Bergerac on the screen hated the absence of panache, the “lack of energy,” in today’s public. “France is sad, and I think the French are fed up…I have the impression that those people in government don’t know what they’re doing.”
Evidence of that are the unintended consequences of the increased taxes imposed by “those people in government.” One think tank calculates that the fiscal flight of French entrepreneurs to more business-friendly countries has cost France tens of thousands of new start-ups that could have created more than 1 million jobs. Or take the inevitable impact on standard of living. Due to the abrupt rise in taxes—up some 17 percent in 2012 alone—the average French citizen’s buying power actually has dropped by around 1 percent. It’s the first time that has happened since 1984. Naturally, that was when France had its only other postwar socialist government. A certain François Mitterrand also tried to govern by doctrine.
Mitterrand eventually changed course before he ran France into the ground. Hollande, his acolyte, apparently failed to learn that lesson. He is now attempting to ram a same-sex “marriage for all” law down the throats of a large, increasingly angry minority who reject it and demand a referendum. Nothing doing, replies the government—it is a non-negotiable question of equal rights. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, quoi! The socialists crowed that it was “a social evolution that benefits society as a whole.” In a fine example of Socialist Newspeak, they claimed that granting marriage and adoption to homosexuals would actually “strengthen the institution of marriage.”
CONSERVATIVE OPPONENTS BEG to differ. Encouraged by Catholic cardinals who denounce same-sex marriage as a “sham that will smash one of the foundations of society,” they organized a massive protest march in Paris last January that mobilized half a million. With Hollande continuing to ignore the heated national mood, opponents staged an even bigger demonstration March 24. Surprised by the nearly 1 million banner-waving marchers—Hollande’s advisers told him the movement was running out of steam—heading for the Arc de Triomphe, riot police panicked. Without warning they began swinging truncheons and spraying tear gas indiscriminately into the faces of couples with children and elderly people. As the crowd’s mood turned uglier, the chants changed to the more directly anti-government “Hollande Resign.”
It was a shocking reaction by a weak government unsure of itself and frightened of its citizenry. Officials compounded their error by flagrantly lying about the number of demonstrators: only 300,000, they claimed, whereas anyone watching the human flood on the broad Avenue de la Grande Armée and Avenue Foch, two of the largest streets in Paris, could see it was at least triple that. One commentator, comparing the authorities’ reaction to strong-arm tactics used by the former East Germany’s repressive Stasi police, called the demonstration “the real French people, men, women, children and elderly who never in their lives had attended a street demonstration.” Christine Boutin, a former cabinet minister under Sarkozy and now president of the Christian Democrat Party, passed out after being gassed as she marched peacefully. “Watch out, Mister President,” she warned afterward. “The people won’t take any more contempt and ridicule. This situation is going to blow up.”
Hollande’s response basically has been to hunker down in his Élysée Palace bunker and hope the mass discontent will blow over. But there is nowhere to hide. Traditionally, a French president reigned but did not rule, leaving the rough and tumble of day-to-day governing to the prime minister. When things got too hot the premier took the fall, as Alain Juppé did in the 1990s when President Jacques Chirac was accused of corruption. Nicolas Sarkozy changed that by putting himself in the front line, much like an American president. Still, Hollande has all the governing leverage any chief of state could ask for: His Socialist Party dominates both houses of parliament and most other levels of government down to town halls nationwide.
But he is mistaken if he believes that is enough to deal with the frustration and anger welling up throughout the country. Nor is it sufficient to use the old totalitarian argument that those opposing him are in the wrong because a majority voted him into power. As a former conservative prime minister under Jacques Chirac, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, said recently, “If the simmering discontent in today’s French society turns into outright anger against the government, we risk having a turbulent spring.”
That is putting it mildly. Analysts are outdoing themselves with dire predictions about just how bad it could get. The respected editor of an economic review notes that the most dangerous thing about the anti–homosexual marriage movement is precisely that it is not organized and has no recognized leader. Rather, it is a loose association of people all across France who share the same convictions and same outrage at being deliberately ignored. “This is a pre-revolutionary situation similar to that in 1789,” he writes, “when Louis XVI faced catastrophic economic circumstances and an army of men, women and children rose up against him.” A prominent columnist for Le Figaro sees “a wind of civil insurrection starting to blow. It hints of a probable French Spring carried out by a people determined to defend their culture, their values, and their way of life.”
I suspect that France is on the edge of something big and unpleasant. As the late philosopher and political scientist Raymond Aron put it after the historic riots of May 1968, “There is no evolution in France. Once in a while we have a revolution.” This May marks the 45th anniversary of the uprising that rocked the country for six weeks and brought Charles de Gaulle’s eventual downfall. It’s impossible to say what might ignite the next explosion, or when.
The spectacular affair of a corrupt budget minister who hid a fortune in offshore accounts—without the knowledge of Hollande, his prime minister, or anyone in his administration, it is claimed—thoroughly shocked and disgusted the French and could be one element. But most likely, the spark will come out of the blue from an unexpected quarter. In 1968 it was an insignificant college panty raid in a Paris suburb. Just before the first cobblestones and tear-gas canisters were thrown, the usually perceptive editors of Le Monde looked around, saw nothing interesting ahead except summer vacation, and ran a front-page editorial complaining about how dull things were.
A few words first about Downton Abbey. I’ll assume that its upstairs/downstairs formula is familiar to readers. One of the BBC show’s great merits is that its creator, Julian Fellowes, does not indulge in class war. Lord Grantham is “probably the most positively portrayed character,” according to Truby’s Writers Studio—a site that gives advice to screenwriters. “Further, all the aristocrats have their personal flaws, as all well-written characters do, but they are essentially good and decent people. Far more surprising, though, is that Fellowes depicts their exercise of power in a positive light.”
The lord’s reactionary butler, Carson, who makes me feel like a liberal, is someone we side with, and is so well rendered that it’s hard to see how the actor (Jim Carter) can ever play anyone else. The only villainous character is downstairs—a lady’s maid called O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran). I gather she won’t be back for the fourth season.
A brief Internet search suggests that the American commentary on Downton has been more intelligent than the British. Some Brits seem so resentful of their fabled class system that they just can’t stop hating it, even if the nation itself has, as they say, moved on.
What about us? Does America have a class system? Increasingly, yes it does. But it’s not hereditary, as the British system was and to some extent still is. (The royal family is its most important relic. Hereditary peers in the House of Lords are dying out and being replaced by life peers chosen by the prime minister. Their descendants do not inherit titles.) I’ll say more about our new class system later.
As for Britain’s hereditary system, capitalism overwhelmed it. Sir Henry Maine famously pointed out that in earlier centuries, status, in Britain and then across Europe, was replaced by contract—that is, by free markets.
Neither formal status nor class separation ever took root in the U.S., except in the shameful case of slavery. The free market system prevailed more fully and rapidly here than in any other country. That is why we have been in the economic vanguard.
But in recent decades, both here and in Europe, the intelligentsia have worked hard to restore a non-hereditary form of status and to marginalize free markets. That is the world we live in today. We have a ruling class that despises the free market and does all in its power to restrict its scope. Markets are resented because they leach power from the intelligentsia, who can’t decree what can be sold, nor the price. (With government price controls they can, and that is always destructive.)
IN THE OLD SYSTEM, as in Downton, the classes were formally separate, but they mingled in a way that is rare in our world. Lady Mary’s maid both helped her get dressed and gossipped with her. Ditto the lord and his valet. “Status” divided them, but they knew one another as individuals. Today, in Washington, D.C., there is a neighborhood called Anacostia. I have little idea what goes on there, even though it’s less than 10 miles away. And I’m not eager to find out, frankly. If someone gave me a bodyguard and a per-diem fee, I might take a look.
The truth is that classes in the U.S. today are separated not by a staircase, but by a canyon (or in the case of Anacostia, a river), and that applies to other major cities with dangerous hinterlands, too: Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, and no doubt half a dozen others.
In these pages a few years ago, Angelo Codevilla gave us a lengthy analysis of “America’s Ruling Class” (TAS, July/August 2010). The major parties aspired to merge into a governing class, he said: “Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.”
Their tastes amount to “a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints.” They seek to impose a unified orthodoxy about man’s origins and American history. They either insist on the need to expand government or fail to resist its expansion.
The ruling class also supports and is supported by a “client underclass” which receives lavish government benefits and votes reliably Democratic. It is opposed by what Codevilla called the country class, and might now be called the Tea Party.
Charles Murray in Coming Apart (2012) took all this a step further. As William Tucker wrote in “The Coming Cultural Disintegration” (TAS, April 2012): “[T]he social disintegration that once seemed to apply only to African Americans has now engulfed blue-collar, white working-class communities as well. Men are dropping out of the workforce, single motherhood has risen to nearly 50 percent, crime has skyrocketed, religious faith is declining, and the chances for upward mobility are rapidly diminishing.”
The cohesion of the white working class is now so low, Murray wrote, that its ability to socialize the next generation is in doubt. He noted the growing social and geographical divide and told an interviewer (Marvin Olasky of World) that if you live in upper-middle-class neighborhoods, you are particularly isolated. “You really don’t have a good idea of what it’s like to be the son or daughter of a truck driver.”
The upper middle class is in better shape. Marriage is the key divider. Fifty years ago we were “pretty much one nation across classes,” Murray wrote. Since then, divorce in the upper middle class has declined, but among the 30- to 49-year-olds in the white working class, “we’re down to 48 percent married.” The latest figures show that 48 percent of all first births are to unmarried women. Today’s ruling class won’t preach what it practices, but confines itself to “ecumenical niceness,” says Murray. But niceness is ignored, and “we now have two cultures.” Call them classes.
WORSE, THE BREAKUP of families has not been discouraged. The fragments of what should have been families need support because children often lack fathers, and today even mothers may be absent. The ruling class doesn’t seem to mind that. It has always depended on a massive state with growing powers of coercion, and a government with an urgent task on its hands is one that will be difficult to shrink.
Incidentally, claiming that unintended outcomes may really be intended, or anticipated but winked at, is today called a “conspiracy theory.” An interesting analysis of the derogatory way the term “conspiracy theory” is now used was made recently by economist Gary North. It is acceptable to attribute political action to “special interest groups,” he points out, but only as long as the motive is profit. But if one argues that “economic self-interest is secondary, and that religious, ideological, or family connection interests are at the bottom of the special-interest group, the theory is automatically dismissed as crackpot.”
Another way of looking at the ongoing destruction of marriage in the working classes is to say that the prolonged anti-Christian campaign, conducted all over the Western world, is finally bearing its rotten fruit. The push for “gay marriage” has the same anti-religious agenda. It’s significant that the New York Times and other media show no sign of alarm about the collapse of working-class marriage. They inveigh against “teen pregnancy,” which has declined, but say nothing about soaring out-of-wedlock births.
If abortion is their unholy sacrament, out-of-wedlock childbearing is their consolation prize. When was the last time you heard a leftist urge the working class to get married before having children? I am tempted to offer a reward to the first person who can find such an appeal.
We live in a world where the top half of income earners pay 98 percent of the taxes while the bottom half pay 2 percent. Nonetheless, “inequality” remains the war cry of our resentment brigades. (It’s true, I’ll concede, that after the collapse of 2008, bankers were rescued when they should not have been, and no bank should be too big to fail.)
But the crucial point is that prescriptions for redress—more regulations, higher tax rates, ever more income redistribution—will only make it harder for the lower classes to raise themselves up if they are not already on the jobs ladder.
Think of a ladder whose the lower rung is too far off the ground. Making that big step up may well entail losing your state benefits. Therefore it is rationally discouraged. Why get up and go to work when you can earn more by staying home? As argued in these pages last month, the black overclass, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the NAACP work against the interest of poor blacks by supporting a higher minimum wage. In so doing they resemble true-blue ruling-class members.
The old class system as seen at Downton Abbey had its unjust aspects (privilege shouldn’t accompany “birth,” for example), and the market system that replaced it was far more productive. But the old system had its merits. It lasted so long that it was obviously stable. Our own new class system, with its anti-religious overtones and with the institution of marriage teetering, is likely to prove unstable. And once the wobbly, less-than-free market that sustains it begins to topple, there will be hell to pay.
Singer-songwriter Alan O’Day passed away on Friday of cancer. He was 72.
O’Day is best known for his number one hit “Undercover Angel” which topped the charts in 1977.
Prior to that, O’Day had written songs for other artists most notably “Angie Baby” for Helen Reddy which number one in 1974 as well as co-writing The Righteous Brothers’ final hit “Rock n’ Roll Heaven”.
O’Day never replicated the success of “Undercover Angel” and spent the rest of his career writing music for TV programs such as Muppet Babies and National Geographic’s Really Wild Animals.
Here is O’Day discussing what inspired him towards songwriting and his subsequent career in the music business. I believe this is the last interview he ever did.
As I describe at CFIF, Artur Davis has identified some of the important meanings of the triple-scandals engulfing the Obama administration. He blitzes what he calls “Obama’s Weak ‘I’m No Nixon’ Defense.” He correctly identifies the administration’s lack of accountability — which is actually its defense against accusations that its conduct has been even more nefarious.
Please do read my analysis of his analysis — and of course, read his original analysis, too. This former congressman is, as usual, very astute.
I would not, could not pretend to do an unbiased job of a full, official review of a new novel by a close cousin. I do, however, feel comfortable doing at least this blog post recommending Precipice, a thriller by my first cousin Leland Davis, who is a well-known extreme kayaker, river guide, and publisher of detailed river descriptions for paddlers. I recommend it not because he’s my cousin, but because it’s a heck of a fun read.
The premise is this: A team of former Navy SEALS engages expert kayaker Chip Wilson to teach them advanced paddling skills, in preparation for a mission to take out a Mexican drug lord. Wilson gets sucked in to something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he imagined — something that takes the story through the halls of Congress and into all sorts of unexpected twists and turns.
Now I can say I didn’t like all the plot developments. But it’s a tale told with verve and excellent pacing — one during which, several times, I just couldn’t put the book down when I had planned to (in other words, staying up to read it into later hours than I intended).
The prose, for a thriller, is excellent — muscular, streamlined without being thin, and descriptive enough to give a very solid sense of scene without obtrusively interfering with the forward momentum of the action.
Back in his boat, Chip slid into the water and peeled gracefully into the flow. He lined up for the gut of the falls, leaned forward, and savored the exhilarating feeling as the front end of the boat dropped. His view swung wildly until the tip of his kayak lined up like a gun sight on the point where the falling water exploded into the pool below. He moved his paddle off to the side so it wouldn’t break over this chest or crush his nose on impact and turned his head sideways at the last moment to lead with the crown of his helmet, which crashed into the foamy water a fraction of a second behind the tip of his boat.
Precipice left me hoping that Leland will write another novel. Spectator readers: Order it, and see for yourselves.
Obama, IG Report refuse to touch powerful Treasury Employees Union headed by ex-IRS agent.
Millennials are going out of their way to deserve their sad fate.
Why is television canceling its homosexual shows?
Health savings accounts are the solution, along with a dose of impeachment.
… that liberals can’t or won’t understand?
Former Canadian politician and First Nations band chief Elijah Harper passed away yesterday of heart failure. He was 64.
A Cree Indian, Harper was born on the Red Sucker Lake Reserve in Northern Manitoba. At the age of 29, Harper became the reserve’s chief.
In 1981, Harper became the first Aboriginal elected to the Manitoba legislature under the NDP banner. The NDP under Howard Pawley unseated the Tory government of Sterling Lyon in that election. Pawley elevated Harper to his cabinet after the NDP’s re-election in 1986. Harper left cabinet the following year following a DUI incident but was re-appointed before the end of 1987. The Tories regained power in Manitoba in 1988 relegating Harper to the opposition benches.
But it was as a member of the opposition where Harper would wield his power. That power would be shortlived but for two weeks in June 1990, Harper was the most powerful man in Canada as he singlehandedly blocked the implementation of the Meech Lake Accord.
Three years earlier, Tory Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the ten provincial Premiers drew up a constitutional reform package that would bring Quebec into Canada’s constitution which had been brought into being in 1982 without Quebec’s signature. These reforms were known as the Meech Lake Accord and were to be ratified by the Canada’s Parliament and the ten provincial legislatures. This had to be done by June 23, 1990.
Manitoba was the only province that had not ratified the Meech Lake Accord. Newfoundland had earlier approved the accord but then rescinded their approval. The Liberal government of Clyde Wells thought Meech gave Quebec special status at the expense of the other provinces.
As for Harper, his objection to Meech Lake was that it excluded Aboriginals from the constitutional process altogether. Armed with only a feather, Harper utilized a parliamentary procedural tactic and would not give his consent for the Manitoba legislature to debate the Meech Lake Accord. Debate in the legislature requires unaminous consent. June 23, 1990 came and went. Manitoba did not ratify Meech and Meech Lake was dead.
For his part, Mulroney pinned the blame of Meech’s defeat on Wells because he had promised to hold another vote in the Newfoundland House of Assembly but cancelled the vote at the last minute. It would not have mattered if Wells had held the vote, Meech was dead the moment Harper said no. However, it would not have been politically viable to expend his wrath on the soft spoken Harper.
In 1993, Harper moved from provincial to federal politics winning a seat in the House of Commons as a Liberal, defeating New Democrat Rod Murphy during Jean Chretien’s sweep to power. This alienated Harper’s one time allies in the NDP. Yet the Liberals didn’t embrace Harper either especially the Quebec caucus who reviled him. Harper was relegated to the backbenches and was defeated in the 1997 federal election by Bev Desjarlais of the NDP. Although an admired figure in most of Canada, Harper would never regain the level of influence he had in those two weeks 23 years ago.
A made for TV film aired titled Elijah aired in Canada in 2007.