American Elephants


How to Destroy Trust In Seven Easy Lessons. by The Elephant's Child

How much should we worry about all these scandals? Professor William A. Jacobson tackles that question, and says “when everything is a crime, government data mining matters.” President Obama, who was elected on the idea that he was going to end the dissension in Washington, and bring people together, has quite clearly been unusually divisive. He has been clear that he believes that “bipartisanship” is when Republicans agree with his ideas.

When the IRS scandal proves that calling yourself a “patriot”, expressing interest in the Constitution, or in smaller government can lead the IRS to descend on you with all their authority, casts suspicion on accounts of how the government data mines phone records and email and search messages from internet companies. When Senator Dianne Feinstein insists that the data mining has prevented large attacks, her paranoia about guns and  lack of sound information make her statements on data mining seem untrustworthy. The level of regulations and mandates emanating from this administration speak constantly of a forceful, authoritarian approach to the public, which is directly oppositional to Americans understanding of individual liberty.

We have all read of the criminalization of life, the attack by the EPA on someone who has allowed rainwater to collect on their land, the attempts by the EPA to regulate trickles of water from snowmelt under their Congressional  authority to make sure that navigable waters are clean. The case of the Gibson Guitar Company shows that government regulators can attack your business and nearly destroy it even when you are obeying all the applicable laws. Overcriminalization is rife, and is becoming a matter of concern.

The United States has implacable enemies. The president’s insistence that he has decimated al Qaeda is not convincing. We continue to be attacked, and data mined from telephone calls between known terrorists or emails between this country and terrorist havens are probably essential to learning about potential attacks. We need intelligence, and good intelligence means trying to find out what the bad guys are doing. They must be found in the general population, and they don’t usually wear tee shirts labeled “bad guy.”

Where should we draw the line? Obama’s response is that we should trust the government. He is advocating a shield law to protect reporters against the sort of harassment that his attorney general and the FBI practiced against Fox News and the Associated Press. He is outraged that the IRS went after his political opponents, and fired the acting Head of the IRS who was scheduled to leave that office shortly, anyway. Victor Davis Hanson spells out the situational ethics practiced by the president. Read that one closely. Obama’s declarations vary from one day to another. Words are designed to please the listener, but have no permanent intent. Americans want to believe their president, but Obama has squandered that trust.

Ironically, the very success of economic and political freedom reduced its appeal to later thinkers. The narrowly limited government of the late nineteenth century possessed little concentrated power that endangered he ordinary man. The other side of the coin was that it possessed little power that would enable good people to do good. And in an imperfect world there were still many evils. Indeed, the very progress of society made the residual evils seem all the more objectionable. As always, people took the favorable developments for granted. They forgot the danger to freedom from  a strong government. Instead, they were attracted by the good that a stronger government could achieve — if only government power were in the “right” hands.
……………………………………………….Milton and Rose Friedman



There’s No Paper Trail. No Smoking Gun. But… by The Elephant's Child

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To understand the current scandals, the big ones — the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the Verizon telephone hacking, and the Prism cyberhacking of nine major internet companies servers for data  — you have to understand some basic differences between the two major political parties. No, Republicans are not pure as the driven snow and the Democrats are not (quite) pure evil. Get real. They are all politicians whose primary interest is being reelected.

Democrats don’t just disagree with Conservatives, they hate them. They want them defeated utterly and completely so they are not there anymore and the Democrats are totally in charge and don’t have to suffer disagreeing people who keep dragging up studies and examples of why Democrats’  ideas won’t work, who get all stuffy about spending money, are unfailingly mean, don’t understand the need to help the poor, and don’t want to repay blacks for all their years of suffering.

Republicans do disagree with Democrats, about almost everything.  This is what the founders intended. Republicans would prefer to win the arguments, but they do recognize that the arguing serves a purpose.  I have never seen any indication anywhere, ever,  that Republicans want to do away with Democrats,  or ban them permanently from government. The ultimate goal of Democrats is winning. They want power. Republicans want a free society and smaller, more efficient government.

With the current scandals, Democrats insist that there is no paper trail, nor no “smoking gun” to connect President Barack O’Blameless to the scandals. Of course not. Obama does not like meetings, avoids them whenever possible, and prefers to make speeches. Why do you think he has all those Czars?

There might not be a paper trail, but Obama “spent months in 2010 warning Americans about the ‘threat’ to democracy posed by conservative groups, right at the time the IRS began targeting these groups.” The only useful thing produced by the inspector general’s audit of the IRS was the timeline, as laid out in the Wall Street Journal by Kim Strassel.

It was August 9, 2010 when the IRS first issued its “Be On the Lookout” list, flagging key conservative words and issues. The president named a group that he was obsessed with — Americans for Prosperity (founded by the Koch Brothers). “Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads…And they don’t have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation.”

Aug. 11: DCCC sends out fundraising emails warning about “Karl Rove inspired shadow groups.”

Aug. 21: Weekly radio address: “shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. …You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation…The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.”

Aug. 23: The New Yorker’s Jame Mayer: Hit piece on Koch brothers titled “Covert Operations: in which she accuses them of funding ‘political front groups.'”

Aug. 27: White House economist Austan Goolsbee accused Koch Industries of being a pass-through that does “not pay corporate income tax.” Inspector General investigates how Goolsbee got that confidential tax information.

Same week: Democrat Party files complaint with IRS claiming Americans for Prosperity is violating tax exempt status.

Sept. 16: Obama in CT, says “foreign-controlled entity” might be funding “millions of dollars of attack ads”

Sept 20: Obama in Philadelphia; “nobody knows who is behind conservative groups.”

And it continued.  IRS employees in the Cincinnati office are now telling investigators that they took their orders from Washington DC. With this kind of commentary coming continually from the president and his spokespeople, you might not have the presidential signature on a formal order, but people probably got the idea. That’s how politics worked in 2010.

If you want to know something about shadowy dark secret groups, just Google “Democracy Alliance.”




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