The 'Plead the Fifth' Administration
“In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” –Thomas Jefferson
This week’s congressional hearings into IRS abuse were illustrative of Leftist contempt for Rule of Law. For starters, it seems the only part of the Constitution that Barack Obama (former constitutional-law lecturer that he is) and his NeoCom lackeys know these days is the Fifth Amendment. And they even get that one wrong.
As the IRS targeted groups with “Patriot” or “Tea Party” in their names for audit or delay of tax-exempt status, one of its criteria was looking for organizations “educating on the constitution and bill of rights” (lowercase in the original inspector general report). Obviously, voters educated on the Constitution and Bill of Rights wouldn’t have elected Obama to begin with, but they also wouldn’t fall for shenanigans like the one pulled by Lois Lerner, the IRS official who directs the offending office. Hence the need for education.
Summoned before Congress, Lerner gave a statement claiming innocence – “I have not done anything wrong, I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules and regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.” She then invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate herself, and refused to answer any questions.
Former Justice Department prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy explains, “To testify, by definition, is to agree to submit to cross-examination.” In other words, Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment right by making a statement at all.
Unfortunately, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R-CA) let her get away with it, though he said he would call her back for questioning after realizing his mistake. McCarthy noted that Issa should have questioned Lerner anyway, showing by her every refusal to answer how very not innocent she and her IRS henchmen are. (In fact, she was directly involved.) Perhaps that will still happen, and Lerner will find herself in contempt of Congress. She’s already found herself on paid administrative leave (a.k.a. vacation) after refusing to resign.
Former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman simply confessed ignorance of the Constitution. Again, given that the targets were organizations “educating on the constitution and bill of rights,” it’s ironic that Shulman responded to a question about the Constitution with, “I don’t necessarily have the Constitution memorized, sir.” Perhaps he should carry one of our Essential Liberty Guides for reference. He may not have it memorized, but at least he should know what it says.
All of this raises the question of when Barack Obama or any administration officials (or his campaign staff) were informed of the IRS’s actions. Our Sergeant Schultz president claims to have learned about the scandal on the news, but the White House Counsel knew of the inspector general’s report at least by April 22 – nearly three weeks before Obama’s, er, press briefing. The report was supposed to be released last September, and the IRS concluded its own probe in May 2012. Releasing either report just before the election certainly wouldn’t have been convenient timing, hence the delay.
There are also clear indications that the targeting was ordered from on high. For example, Colleen Kelley, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, met the president at the White House on March 31, 2010. The next day, IRS employees – who belong to that union, and who donated heavily to anti-Tea Party candidates (our tax dollars at work) – began targeting the Tea Party. The inspector general report, however, shows that the targeting possibly began as early as February 2010, and the NTEU, of course, denies collusion. But Kelley herself admitted, “No processes or procedures or anything like that would ever be done just by frontline employees without any management involvement.” So, how high does “management” go? High enough, it seems, to conclude that Team Obama cheated its way to re-election last November by using the IRS to punish this president’s political “enemies.”
Now for a parting thought: The IRS is charged in large part with implementing ObamaCare, and it has created eight offices and hired 2,137 agents – so far – to do so. The invasive exams are just getting started.
Yet Another Outrage
If targeting conservatives and lying about it isn’t enough, another group unfairly singled out for audit is adoptive families. National Review’s David French reports, “In 2012, the IRS requested additional information from 90 percent of returns claiming the adoption tax credit and went on to actually audit 69 percent.” And all for a measly 1 percent return. The message from the anti-family Left: Don’t adopt, or at least don’t bother claiming the tax credit; Abort instead, because no one should dare mess with Planned Parenthood.
Quote of the Week
“[T]he scandal is actually much worse if the IRS was acting without guidance from the White House. A corrupt administration can be ousted through resignation or impeachment, as in 1974. If the IRS and other permanent institutions of government are fundamentally corrupt, reforming them would be much more complicated and effortful.” –Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto
“The Fifth Amendment privilege is not designed to protect the innocent. The innocent do not need protection from the truth (just from the IRS). The privilege is designed to protect the bedrock principle that the burden of proof is always on the government and, derivatively, that a person is never required to prove his innocence. (No surprise, I suppose, that an IRS official is unfamiliar with these foundational pillars of Anglo-American law.)” –National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy
Government and Politics
DOJ Targeted More Media Than Just AP
The evidence for the Obama regime’s all-out assault on the Constitution piled higher and deeper this week, and the First Amendment is clearly in the regime’s sights. After last week’s revelation that Obama’s Justice Department had targeted the Associated Press by issuing subpoenas for phone records, this week Deputy Attorney General James Cole tried to claim that the subpoenas were narrowly focused. Evidence shows that is not the case, however, and that in fact numerous members of the press were targeted by Obama’s White House. In the AP case, the Justice Department’s secret subpoena covered far more than initially thought, including five reporters' cellphones, three home phones, two fax lines and phone lines in nine AP offices where more than 100 AP reporters worked.
On Monday, the Washington Post reported that the Obama Justice Department targeted Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “co-conspirator” in a probe of intelligence analyst Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who is charged with giving classified information to Rosen in 2009. Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on it, too. The Obama regime obtained a search warrant for Rosen’s personal email account and justified it by telling the judge that Rosen was part of a conspiracy because he acted like, well, a journalist. In court documents, the FBI explained how Rosen used a – gasp – “covert communications plan.” It also appears that the Justice Department went after five other Fox News-related phone numbers, possibly including Rosen’s parents.
Then we come to CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who is just about the only reporter to investigate the Obama regime’s Fast and Furious malfeasance. Attkisson said, “I can confirm that an intrusion of my computers has been under some investigation on my end for some months…” She believes the possible surveillance of her computer began in February 2011 as she started reporting on Fast and Furious. When asked if she might have been targeted in a fashion similar to that used on Rosen, Attkisson wryly understated, “There could be some relationship between these types of things and what’s happened to me.”
How chilling is this? Is there a reporter left in America who feels that he or she can discuss anything privately with anyone on any kind of electronic medium? Will members of the Leftmedia finally wake up and hold this tyrannical, lawless regime accountable? Hello, anyone?
This Week’s ‘Braying Jackass’ Award
“I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field. To do so, we must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information. But a free press is also essential for our democracy. I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable. Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law.” –Barack Obama
He is correct, but these are also empty words. Obama has repeatedly expressed his full confidence in Attorney General Eric Holder, who is at the center of targeting journalists.
New and Notable Legislation
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 Tuesday to approve the “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill. Three Republicans – Lindsey Graham (SC), Jeff Flake (AZ) and Orrin Hatch (UT) – joined all 10 Democrats in supporting the legislation. When the Senate reconvenes after its Memorial Day recess, it will take up the bill. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), however, announced that his chamber won’t vote on the Senate’s bill, opting instead to work up its own reform package.
News From the Swamp: Debt Ceiling Breached (Again)
The federal government once again reached its debt ceiling last week, as it added $300 billion to the national debt since February. Barack Obama and Congress agreed back then to suspend the debt ceiling for three months in order to buy some political wiggle room for negotiations that have not taken place on developing a plan to tackle a problem no one wants to touch. In the intervening three months, the national debt rose from $16.4 trillion to $16.7 trillion.
We’ve been instructed by our elected “leaders” to feel better about this because they would rather we focus on last week’s news about increased tax revenue and shrinking deficits. The savings recorded by those two actions is almost completely negated by this data, though. And our elected “representatives” prove continuously that they’re not concerned about tackling the real problem. For instance, despite the sequester, bonuses for senior-level federal employees continue without change. Executives at the General Services Administration, which recently threw a series of lavish taxpayer-funded parties in Las Vegas, were among the employees who received over $340 million in bonuses between 2008 and 2011.
Employers Will Trim Coverage Due to ObamaCare
Health insurance brokers are now designing and packaging bare-bones plans that cut overhead dramatically while remaining within the bounds of ObamaCare. The new low-premium plans, some of which don’t even offer prenatal care, are growing in popularity among employers. These options will work well for younger, healthier single workers, but everyone seeking comprehensive coverage will be forced into more expensive insurance pools.
This latest ObamaCare symptom resulted from the law’s never having specifically defined what constituted employer-sponsored coverage, and now employers can take advantage of the “train wreck” implementation phase of the Affordable Care Act. Robert Kocher, a former White House adviser who helped craft ObamaCare, wants us to believe they never saw it coming: “We wouldn’t have anticipated that there’d be demand for these types of Band-Aid plans in 2014. Our expectation was that employers would offer high-quality insurance.” Another “win” for central planning.
Regulatory Commissars: The Increasing Scope of Regulation
When average families make their budgets for the year, they figure in the costs they know, such as food, housing, childcare, and so forth, and hope to be able to set some aside for a vacation or a rainy day. But there are hidden costs they don’t see, and most prominent among them is the price of federal regulation. An annual study put out by Clyde Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute now pegs that cost to the economy at $1.8 trillion, and the average American household pays $14,678 annually just for their share of the economic hit. At over $1,200 per month, this cost now ranks second only to housing.
The Wall Street Journal recounts, “Despite the Obama myth that the Bush years were an era of deregulation, the Bush Administration routinely generated more than 70,000 pages a year in the Federal Register.” But not surprisingly, the regulation toll has reached a new peak under Barack Obama, who owns the distinction of presiding over three of the four largest growth years for the Federal Register. In 2012 the Register increased by nearly 79,000 pages, just off his record of 81,405 added in 2010. Some of the biggest paperwork culprits are obvious: ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial law lead the way, but environmental regulations also contributed to the morass.
No one argues that regulations aren’t necessary to maintain a certain standard of law, but the overzealous nature of many requirements serves as a brake to economic prosperity. Regulations enacted don’t come off the books easily, either, and the regulatory effects of the Obama administration will be felt long after the president leaves in 2017.
One Down, 19 to Go
Last week the Department of Energy approved the conversion of a Texas liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal to one handling exports. The $10 billion Quintana Island Freeport LNG project will help to supply utilities in resource-poor Japan with up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of LNG per day for the next two decades. While that seems like a lot, each day pipelines in our country export a year’s worth of Freeport’s LNG to Mexico and Canada. Another project in Louisiana will attract $6 billion in investment from Japanese and French interests who won’t mind paying a premium for LNG once the project is completed.
However, 19 other projects, including the aforementioned Louisiana project, await the green light. One hindrance is a 1938 law that prohibits the export of natural gas to nations with which we don’t have a trade agreement – lacking special approval from the federal government, which only Alaska has. Japan happens to be one of those nations, even though it would be a more than willing customer. Moreover, ecofascists will always step in and try to thwart any progress in the carbon-based fuel industry, particularly if it comes at the expense of “clean” energy. The irony of converting a terminal built just a few years ago based on the assumption that we would have to import natural gas is a tribute to American ingenuity and willingness to use technology to improve our standard of living.
Warfront With Jihadistan: Obama’s Big Speech
Barack Obama made a big speech at the National Defense University Thursday regarding Guantanamo Bay, drone strikes and U.S. anti-terror policy in general. Here are some lowlights:
“Neither I, nor any president, can promise the total defeat of terror.” Of course, Obama has repeatedly assured us that he has decimated al-Qa'ida, hence the cover-up of the real reason for the Benghazi attack. He also won’t call terror attacks what they are – the Fort Hood massacre and the appalling beheading in Britain committed by a pair of jihadis just this week, to name but two.
“[W]e must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror,’ but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.” In other words, a global war on terror.
“Of course, the targeting of any Americans [in drone strikes] raises constitutional issues that are not present in other strikes … but the high threshold that we have set for taking lethal action applies to all potential terrorist targets, regardless of whether or not they are American citizens” [emphasis added]. The administration acknowledged Wednesday that four U.S. citizens have been killed in drone strikes – most famously Anwar al-Awlaki, the jihadi cleric killed in Yemen in September 2011.
“I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.” Obama has done nothing but break that oath throughout his presidency.
“[Guantanamo Bay] has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law. … Given my administration’s relentless pursuit of al-Qa'ida’s leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility [Guantanamo Bay] that should never have been opened.” First of all, it’s not Gitmo, it’s his administration that flouts the Rule of Law. Second, he’s still blaming Congress for his failure to keep a stupid campaign promise to extend American law to non-citizens in open combat with the U.S.
In conclusion, writes Heritage Foundation’s James Jay Carafano, “President Obama took an interesting step in the War on Terror [Thursday]. Rather than outline what he will do to address the setbacks America has suffered in its battle against the global Islamist insurgency, he promised an even more restrained effort and more transparency.”
Military Correctness: Ft. Hood Shooter Still Being Paid
Two recent stories highlight the absurdity of the Obama administration’s refusal to try accused Fort Hood mass-murderer Nidal Hasan as a terrorist. The first is that while Hassan and his legal team drag out the proceedings he continues to receive pay and allowances like any other active duty major, totaling approximately $278,000 since the shooting. Meanwhile, many of those wounded during his rampage have been medically discharged and struggle to make ends meet. While Hasan’s victims were forced to end their service due to their injuries, the Army refuses to separate Hasan even though his injuries (he is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by officers responding to his massacre) are a direct result of his treasonous actions and render him physically unfit for future service, even if acquitted. Separating Hasan won’t necessarily make life any easier for his victims, but it would at least begin to balance the scales of justice.
The second contrast is with the recent uproar over sexual harassment in the military. While the Army and media are doing cheetah flips to ensure Hasan isn’t portrayed in a way that might negatively influence a court martial (i.e., calling a terrorist a terrorist), news conferences and page-one articles are the order of the day when a military member is so much as accused of any form of sexual impropriety. When it’s about an “Allahu Akbar” shouting, bin Laden-endorsing Muslim, decision makers can’t bring themselves to mention the t-word, but when an individual who has served honorably for 20-plus years behaves – well, like a drunk – a crisis action group is convened at the White House and statements of outrage can’t come fast enough from Congress, SecDef and the Chairman – no presumption of innocence, no due process, just statements about how “this is too important an issue to wait.”
Indeed, Obama’s Defense Department is exempting 1,000 civilians working in sexual assault prevention from furloughs affecting even civilian support teams in Afghanistan.
Had the administration and its media apologists shown as much interest in Hasan’s 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder as in the military’s so-called sexual assault “epidemic,” Hasan would have been bound over to a federal court and discharged from the Army long ago. The Obama administration’s rationale for pursuing a court martial for “workplace violence” rather than treason is that the former nests better within the administration’s narrative that Islam is a religion of peace and that killing Osama bin Laden largely resolved the terrorism issue. At least they’re consistent and predictable: message matters … justice not so much.
Benghazi Suspects Identified, Left Alone
The FBI this week identified five men suspected of involvement in the Benghazi terrorist attack. However, while the U.S. “has enough evidence to justify seizing them by military force as suspected terrorists,” notes the Associated Press, “there isn’t enough proof to try them in a U.S. civilian court as the Obama administration prefers.” In other words: Political correctness once again takes priority over justice.
Among the reasons for the delay is Obama’s reluctance to treat Libya as anything but an ally. Any force may reflect badly on his image, and, of course, his (stated) foreign policy equates to anything anti-Bush. Second, and more important, is Guantanamo Bay, where America continues to hold terrorists, including the masterminds behind September 11, 2001 (some of whom, we might add, are still awaiting trial). Obama has continually promised to close the detention facility since before his first election. The message Obama is sending translates to a dangerous narrative: Attack us, and you might meet justice – just not during an election.
Village Academic Curriculum: School Choice
Idaho can do a lot more than grow potatoes. The Gem State recently established a statewide educational pilot program that utilizes the Khan Academy to aid in the learning process. Founded on the belief that students should master each level of content before moving to the next, the Khan Academy is an online-based curriculum in which students watch lectures from home and attend school to do homework and gain one-on-one instruction from teachers. This “flipped classroom” approach means students needing more time to grasp a concept can take that time while students who excel aren’t held back.
Even as Idaho is improving education, however, the Department of Justice seems dead-set on building roadblocks where educational success has been blazing a trail. Recently, it dictated that private and parochial schools participating in voucher programs must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Vouchers, of course, have been wildly successful in rescuing students from failing schools – which is precisely why the Obama Justice Department stepped in. Writing to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Justice Department claims complaints by “advocacy groups” of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. But reality doesn’t concur. “[A]fter 22 years of operation and with 25,000 student participants, approximately 11 percent of whom have disabilities, the state agency that oversees the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has received a grand total of 0 complaints regarding the program’s treatment of students with disabilities,” notes Patrick Wolf, the head of a national research team evaluating the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
Where no problem exists, the Justice Department created one and mandated a “solution” that will burden schools with costs that may mean fewer will participate in voucher programs. That in turn leaves fewer students with access to the educational opportunities provided by the programs. The Department of Justice? For whom?
Climate Change This Week: Cyclones of Blame
In the past few days we have been treated to the spectacle of leftists blaming global warming for an act of nature, specifically, Monday’s horrendous tornado in Oklahoma. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) blamed Republicans for standing in the way of “doing something” about climate change, while global warming propagandist Bill Nye speculated that “more heat” means “more tornadoes.” Not to be outdone, Salon writer David Sirota warns that the “Republican sequester” cuts to the National Weather Service budget could leave future storms “undetected” and result in “more lives lost.”
These ridiculous leftists are unable to rationally explain troublesome facts that discredit their belief system, such as the BBC’s recent report that “since 1998, there has been an unexplained ‘standstill’ in the heating of the Earth’s atmosphere.” Might we humbly suggest a hoax is to blame? Thus far, leftists haven’t figured a way to blame the potentially criminal behavior at the IRS or the Benghazi scandal on global warming, but we suspect when all the other excuses and attempts at misdirection fail, these perfect political storms will someday be attributed to fevers induced by climate change.
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma
Barack Obama will head to Oklahoma City Sunday “to see firsthand the response” to the tornadoes that struck the area this week. That made us wonder, is there a fundraiser nearby?
There will be some political side to this because for Obama everything is, first and foremost, evaluated for its political impact. His posturing in Oklahoma is for the benefit of looking presidential amid the ruins and suffering, and for a needed diversion from the beltway scandals. Fact is, he is losing the integrity battle as more of his constituents begin to see what we’ve always seen – that he’s a pathological narcissist driven only by a self-serving agenda.
Lifesaver’s Life Turned Upside Down
In January we reported that a Washington, DC, man saved the life of a boy who, while riding his bike, was attacked by three pit bulls. The man saw what was happening, raced to retrieve a gun from his home and shot one of the dogs. A nearby police officer responded to the shots and dispatched the other two dogs. The boy survived the attack, but rather than hail the heroic actions of a neighbor, local prosecutors warned that he could have been hit with up to seven criminal charges because his gun was unregistered.
Instead, because his actions saved the boy’s life, he was treated “leniently” – with “only” a $1,000 fine instead of time in prison. However, the District prosecutor only deferred charges, meaning the man’s record won’t be clean for at least another 60 days if he doesn’t run afoul of the law during that time.
More important, the man also lost his three guns – the 9mm Ruger he used to shoot the dog, an antique M-1 rifle and a Mossberg shotgun, as well as 100 rounds of ammunition – until he completes his move to Maryland and registers them there. It’s worth pointing out that the other two guns were safely locked away in a remote storage area and not in his possession at the time of the incident.
By comparison, the dog owner whose pit bulls mauled the boy faces nine criminal counts, three apiece for each of the three dogs, with the most serious being possession of a dangerous dog.
Faith and Family: Boy Scouts Cave
The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to allow openly homosexual boys to participate in the Scouts, while openly homosexual men will remain prohibited – for now. The rule change passed with more than 60 percent of the vote. In a statement, the BSA explained, “The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.” The issue has been brewing for many years, as homosexual activists continue to push for special acceptance and recognition in all areas of life – and they won’t stop with this victory. We fear, too, that this spells the beginning of the end for the Scouts. Be sure to read this Letter to an Eagle Scout for more.
Monday is Memorial Day, and as we all take time to honor our fallen warriors, we recommend that you read Mark Alexander’s recounting of the story of the janitor and the Medal of Honor.
In honor of American Patriots who died in defense of our great nation, lower your flag to half-staff from sunrise to 1200 on Monday. (Read about proper flag etiquette and protocol here.) Join us by observing a time of silence at 1500 (your local time), for remembrance and prayer, and offer a personal word of gratitude and comfort to any surviving family members you know who are grieving for a beloved warrior fallen in battle.
On this and every day, please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces now standing in harm’s way around the world in defense of our liberty, and for the families awaiting their safe return.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team