Our Most Dangerous Entanglements Are Domestic ONES

First published on The Policy Think Site  www.jaygaskill.com

Our Most Dangerous Entanglements Are Domestic ONES

The opinion mavens of the day like to talk about all the wonders and joys of interconnectivity – on the web, in commerce and in our hectic, information-saturated lives.

Yet when the contents of the bilge dump from a foreign vessel vents “non-native” species into local waters; when those alien species devour and displace valuable local species, that kind interconnectivity is considered another kettle of fish.

Hawaii works diligently, for example, to keep local flora and fauna from being “polluted” by non-native, off-island plants and critters, and for good reasons: Hawaiians want to protect paradise from  damaging ecological entanglements.

In this essay, I will be sharing insights about the perils of interconnectivity, especially when our economic bloodstream is placed at risk.

In a follow-on essay, Part Two (to be released next Wednesday), I address some of the early battles that must be fought and refought.

 

A SOBER ANALYSIS

By Jay B Gaskill

 

The real-estate credit bubble of 2008 was not our first.

Back in 1796, a huge U.S. land speculation bubble broke. The ensuing Panic of 1796–1797 became catastrophic disruption of Atlantic credit markets that rippled through Britain and the United States. That credit tsunami exposed the fact that that the USA’s fragile credit system was dangerously entangled with Europe. Gossip in the US capital was all about the warnings against foreign entanglements by George Washington in his Farewell Address.  In is 1801 Inaugural Address, Thomas Jefferson counseled, “…peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”

Flash forward to the late thirties: physicists discovered that two quantum particles (in the quark family) could be entangled with each other such that even when they were widely separated, what happened to one caused an effect on the other…this seemed to be happening without any known physical link between them.  In 1949, Albert Einstein said that this quantum entanglement was “spooky”. Hold that thought.

In 1961, Alicia Rosenbaum (Ayn Rand) opposed the entanglement of commerce and politics; she advocated erecting “a [wall of] separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.”

In 2010, experts began warning us, after the fact, that financial risk entanglement is dangerous.

“Modern financial institutions are entangled in a network of illiquid bilateral hedging contracts…. The fear of these instruments affecting the whole financial system was a major … [factor]… in the Financial Crisis of 2008. The system is “entangled”… if banks have large exposures to a few counterparties, [because] they … do not take into account that their own failure also drags down other banks….. Given that banks choose short-term financing, the failure of a single large bank prompts a systemic run. The whole system collapses even though banks have positive equity and are not directly linked through credit exposure…”

This was taken from an academic paper by  Adam Zawadowski (currently Assistant Professor of Finance, Boston University School of Management) { PhD in economics, Princeton University, 2010 / MA in economics, Central European University, 2005 /MSc in engineering-physics, Budapest University of Technology and Economics} 2003 http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/workshops/finance/past/pdf/JMP_Zawadowski.pdf }

 

TAKEAWAY POINT ONE:

The banking credit entanglement problem of 2008-9 took a heavy toll on all of us; even the solvent banks took hits, in spite of the fact that those banks were not directly linked to the weak ones. It turns out that the same kind of spooky entanglements that freaked Einstein are not confined to some esoteric field of physics; they regularly cause mischief in our economic lives right down to the bread and butter level.

TAKEAWAY POINT TWO:

In its healthiest form, commerce is “pure”, by which I mean that it is essentially free of political meddling (entanglements); and is supplied with an effective support system. Commerce requires common commercial standards that are enforced through a system of laws that require honesty and transparency; allow risk/reward and risk/failure; and support the integrity of agreements, contracts and the necessary financial infrastructure. Both elements – the support system and the freedom from political meddling – are essential to healthy commerce.

I’m not giving away any secrets to point out that we are living in the realm of impure commerce. Almost every financial or business decision in and outside the United States is freighted with a web of approvals and constraints that go far beyond and necessary support system.

Why? …To further the causes of “social justice,” and to support the political class via a system of favors.

Over time, the political class has imposed layers upon layers of social goals (some conflicting) on the commercial sector, until they collectively burden its operation. At first blush, it may seem self-defeating to impose measures that impair the generation of the real income on which the economy depends, but the political class benefits specially. The various social goal measures became the political foundation of a system of electoral paybacks that benefit a working majority of the political class, but not necessarily of the electorate. This has become an ongoing a feedback loop. It operates like a damaging biological or ecological invasion, as when a parasite begins to fatally weaken its host, or an invasive species threatens the ecosystem.

These are the inevitable results of the entanglement of “economics” and “politics” about which Ayn Rand and other have warned. We might talk about the “state” or “the government” as if it is still some neutral arbiter, a source of eternal fairness and justice. But in the modern situation that is an indulgence in fantasy.  There are no neutral arbiters in politics.  Interest group politics is all about buying votes via the allocation of monetary and regulatory burdens.

Commerce is about creating wealth. In the pure commercial model, failure is a teaching moment, not the occasion for a subsidy; its impact falls primarily on investors, not on taxpayers.  In the pure commercial model, success is a teaching moment for others to emulate, not the occasion for a “fairness tax” on success.

The pure commerce model works.  We know that by comparing the performance of economies that are less burdened by political meddling with those that are more burdened. Over time, relatively pure commerce (nothing in life is truly “pure”) outperforms all other models.

Politically managed commerce does not do well over time. The wisest thing a liberal or conservative government can do for the common well-being is to provide the necessary support system for the commercial system to operate; then get out of the way.

Note to public money humanitarians: You can’t tax a moribund economy (or bleed an anemic host) for long.

Even Xi Jinping, China’s new, business-friendly president gets it.  Allowing for the lingering ideological shadow of Mao, President Xi Jinping shows a better understanding of the basic needs of commerce than many members of the American political class seem to grasp – and that is no endorsement of the Chinese way.

Some discouraged observers have given up; they maintain that our current level of political and economic entanglement is a metastatic cancer that has perverted the political system and overburdened the economic system in ways that are almost beyond remedy.

That is self-defeating.  It is also ridiculous.

Think of being the landlord of the nightmare rental occupied by a recluse. A formerly elegant home is crammed floor to ceiling with pet debris, empty tuna cans, old shoes, older clothing, piles of obsolete electronics, magazines, unused coupons, bottles, boxes and other undefinable heaps of “stuff”,  clutter as far as the eye can see.  You lecture the occupant; you get promises that never are kept. But nothing meaningful happens until the occupant-in-residence is evicted, or decides it’s time to leave.  On that happy day, change is in the air.

In four days, a work and cleaning crew has hauled away all the junk, and scrubbed the place down to the bare walls.  When the new tenants arrive, the old house takes on new life.

We, the American people, are the landlords.  The political class, liberals, conservatives, centrists, progressives and ward heelers all, are our tenants.  The solution is essentially the same as in the bad tenant example: …Eviction. …Cleanup. …Recovery.

Of course, our real life time frame is more extended; after all it’s a very big house, and the tenants have been messing it up for decades. The eviction process necessarily takes place in stages.

This is not rocket science. …Although to the political class common sense might as well be quantum physics. Our success will be apparent when the political burden on commerce is once again much lighter, much more predictable, much more bearable and rational. That success will seem like a “back to the future” moment, but it will actually constitute an authentic creative change, a new, new thing on the earth.

The full creative powers of commerce have yet to be unleashed anywhere in the world.  When we eventually succeed in this liberation, and we will, we need to be wise in our moment of victory. We or our descendants will need entanglement-firewalls to ensure that the following generations don’t walk back into the same trap again.

I believe that this will take place because it will be a self-evident necessity for humanity to survive.  American exceptionalism comes down to this. The USA is the single, most viable nation of significant size and power left standing, that has the capacity to bring this creative economic and political change to fruition within the lifetimes of children now alive.

And this brings to mind the admonition of the sage, Hiller the Elder, who charged his and all subsequent generations: “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

As Americans we need to accept our role as stewards of the future.

JBG

Stay tuned for Part Two, in one week.

 

COPYRIGHT© 2013 BY JAY B GASKILL, ATTORNEY AT LAW

PULL QUOTES AND LINKS ARE ENCOURAGED

FOR COMMENTS & OTHER PERMISSIONS, CONTACT THE AUTHOR BY EMAIL: law@jaygaskill.com

IRS – THE DAM IS BREAKING

Thursday, May 23, 2013

THERE ARE CRACKS IN THE DAM –

An update to – IRS scandal

By

Jay B Gaskill

The Policy Think Site

 

For the context, please refer to JBG’s earlier articles-

http://www.jaygaskill.com/IRS2.pdf

&

http://www.jaygaskill.com/TheImperfectOpportunity.htm

 

USA TODAY

Comedians are having a field day

The IRS scandal seems to be getting closer to the White House. Yesterday it was revealed that President Obama’s chief of staff actually knew about the IRS targeting conservative groups, but never told the president. It’s getting so bad for Obama, one comedian said, that perhaps his only recourse is to kill bin Laden again.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/05/22/obama-irs-fallon-conan-leno-letterman/2350303/

THE HILL

US Senate Races may be affected:

The Republican committee includes four questions it wants Democrats to answer, including whether the targeted lawmaker will return campaign contributions from the IRS union, whether they believe Obama should apologize to those targeted and whether they’d like an independent counsel to investigate the misconduct.

There has not yet been a concerted push from Republicans in Congress to appoint a special counsel to investigate the issue but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated he’s open to the idea.

Similar releases target 11 other Democrats, most of whom are up for reelection or running for Senate in 2014. Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Al Franken (Minn.) and Mark Udall (Colo.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) are all heading into reelection; Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) will be up in 2016.

Also included in the attack are Reps. Gary Peters (Mich.) and Bruce Braley (Iowa), both of whom are running for the Senate.
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/senate-races/301291-nrsc-continues-targeting-dems-on-irs-scandal#ixzz2U2iyX8Nv
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

 

IS THERE A NEW SCANDAL?

The “charity” run by President Barack Obama’s half-brother that was fast-tracked for IRS tax-exempt status is based at a Virginia UPS store, according to its website.

The organization’s IRS filings list another Virginia address that is actually a drug rehab center where the foundation does not appear ever to have been based.

The Barack H. Obama Foundation is run by Abon’go “Roy” Malik Obama, the half-brother of Barack Obama.
http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/20/tax-exempt-obama-foundation-doesnt-exist-at-listed-addresses/#ixzz2U4puCEIK

 

[We might ask ourselves, Which IRS official was so kind as to streamline tax exempt status for Roy Obama’s organization? JBG]

Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official at the center of the decision to target tea party groups for burdensome tax scrutiny, signed paperwork granting tax-exempt status to the Barack H. Obama Foundation, a shady charity headed by the president’s half-brother that operated illegally for years.

According to the organization’s filings, Lerner approved the foundation’s tax status within a month of filing, an unprecedented timeline that stands in stark contrast to conservative organizations that have been waiting for more than three years, in some cases, for approval.

Lerner also appears to have broken with the norms of tax-exemption approval by granting retroactive tax-exempt status to Malik Obama’s organization

http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/14/irs-official-lerner-approved-exemption-for-obama-brothers-charity/#ixzz2U4q7lyFW

This author has no special information either to corroborate or dispute the account just quoted, except these questions:

  • DO YOU DETECT A PATTERN HERE?
  • IF IT HAPPENED AS ALLEGED, WHY WOULD MS. LERNER DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS?
  • WHICH POLITICAL OPERATIVES WERE IN TOUCH WITH HER?
  • WHAT DOES THE PRESIDENT SAY?

 

WHY WASN’T THIS JUST ORDINARY ‘GREED’?

None of these cases are “scandal” in the normal sense. They’re not rooted in any of the deadly sins. In fact, they’re nearly the opposite. They’re simply a mode of governing. They are examples, actually, of deep belief.

Belief that the ends justify the means. That the other side must be delegitimized. That, except during election season, public opinion is beside the point.

A scandal is what happens when you’re exposed doing something you knew was wrong.

We can’t be sure, of course, but I suspect that if you were to go back in time and talk to any of the people involved in these situations—the ones redrafting the Benghazi talking points, the ones pulling the Associated Press logs and going after Fox News, the ones targeting conservative groups—they wouldn’t have been embarrassed in the least. They would have explained how they were helping the greater good.

And I’d posit that this sort of fervor is far more worrisome than mere scandal. A rogue is a rogue and every administration has its scoundrels. True believers are something else.

This was just written by Jonathan V. Last, Senior Writer for The Weekly Standard, May 22, 2013.

I believe Mr. Last was actually describing another parallel with the Nixon presidency. 

The Watergate burglary was a misguided, but sincere, attempt by true believers to seize evidence of treason. That is chilling precisely because it posits an end that justifies seriously warped means … justified at least in the eye of the beholder. And it is doubly chilling because the attack on dissent and political opposition using the power of government is the trademark of the bullies-in-sheep’s clothing who attempt to transform the political system to consolidate power.

This is part of a sinister pattern that, if not nipped in the bud, can quickly mutate into something very ugly and very authoritarian.

 

CONCLUSION

This is my advice to congressional republicans (and any non-conforming democrats who are still in the closet, but might want to give courage a try):

Explore these and the related matters with relentless care, and thoroughly; do not allow a single lead to pass without investigation and exposure. 

If this administration cannot achieve transparency and accountability, then is up to the Congress to do so, using its contempt powers to pry loose the truth from the stubborn miscreants who are hiding it.

If the President’s political team keeps it up, these scandals will cascade into an entertaining circus that will surface and resurface well into 2014.

Without a doubt, the administration’s political managers saw these storms coming, and hoped to bleed the bad stories out now, in the interval between the presidential election and the forthcoming midterm elections, so that the electoral the damage could be “managed.”  But one effect has been to re-energize the moribund populists who do not trust the president, wake up the GOP establishment, and galvanize the friends of personal liberty to form a common front.

This attempt at scandal containment does not bode well for the president, who desperately wants these converging scandals NOT to be part of the conversation when the Senate and House races heat up in the summer of 2014.

But an erosion of trust in the presidency and an arousal of distrust and suspicion about a falling administration cannot be easily repaired in the coming sixteen months, if at all. Turnout may no longer favor this president.

This has been a test, not so much of this president’s leadership (the absence of which is a settled issue) as it is of his character. Recall that the ancient Greek sage, Heraclitus, famously said that “character is destiny”.

This president’s destiny seems to be trapped in that long and slippery slide from admiration and hope to disappointment and disintegration of support.

When Bill Clinton was at his political nadir, his wife Hillary, had the good sense to call in Dick Morris; and President Clinton had the good sense to heed sage advice. But a serious case of narcissism can operate as a thick bubble that hinders such rescues.  Nothing that this author has yet so far detected suggests that Mr. Obama’s bubble is ready to grant insider admission even to a “good” democrat like James Carville, let alone one like Pat Caddell[i].

Mr. Obama believes that he is the smartest, most beloved president in history.  That narrative, even more than the false narratives designed to deflect the Benghazi and IRS abuse scandals, could be this president’s ultimate undoing.

JBG

Except for the extensive quoted material, this piece is Copyright © 2013 by Jay B Gaskill, attorney at law.  Contact via email law@jaygaskill.com.



[i] Mr. Caddell is a prominent democratic pollster, speech writer and consultant, who has worked for President Jimmie Carter and Governor Jerry Brown, as well as other mainstream democrats, but has sharply broken with the current administration.  James Carville is still active in democratic politics, having worked closely with Bill Clinton and, later, for Hillary. He is a fierce defender of his clients in public, but, in private, is painfully candid with them. Not every candidate is ready to hear the truth.

THE IRS SCANDAL – NOW IT GETS INTERESTING

THE IRS SCANDAL

OBAMA HAS PROMISED TO ‘FIX IT.’

► YET WE ARE NOT REASSURED

ARTICLE

By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney At Law

ALSO POSTED ON THE POLICY THINK SITE — http://jaygaskill.com/IRS2.pdf

B R E A K I N G …

TOP IRS OFFICIAL TO ‘TAKE THE FIFTH’ TOMORROW

Lois Lerner, the top IRS official who is at the center of the controversy for the targeting of tea party and other conservative groups, will refuse to answer questions at a congressional hearing Wednesday and invoke her Fifth Amendment rights, ABC News has learned. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/irs-official-lois-lerner-to-take-the-fifth/

J U S T   R E V E A L E D …

WASHINGTON EXAMINER:  Eighty-three-year old great-grandmother Marianne Chiffelle of the Albuguerque Tea Party was a target of the IRS harassment of conservative political groups from 2010 through the 2012 presidential campaign.

Internal Revenue Service officials not only wanted a wide variety of information from the Albuquerque Tea Party’s application for non-profit status, it also wanted to know what contacts it had with people from other political organizations too.

That included an 83-year-old great-grandmother who was once held in a World War II internment camp, New Mexico Watchdog has discovered.

“I’ve always paid my taxes and everything,” Marianne Chiffelle told New Mexico Watchdog. “What I do think is, it doesn’t surprise me…because of this government we have at the moment.”

http://washingtonexaminer.com/irs-went-after-83-year-old-tea-party-granny/article/2530131

 

COMMENTARY

BY JAY B GASKILL


Victor Davis Hanson, the classical/military historian, Hoover scholar, has just released a trenchant summary, Obama’s Second Term Embarrassments.  It is linked HERE: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/348413/obama%E2%80%99s-second-term-embarrassments .   Hanson’s piece closes with – “What is the common denominator in all these second-term administration embarrassments? “Hope and change” is fast becoming the 1973 Nixon White House.”

Like this author, Dr. Hanson has identified himself as a conservative democrat.

Now, in a late-breaking article, published in the American Spectator, we learn that –

…[A]ccording 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.

LINK http://spectator.org/archives/2013/05/20/obama-and-the-irs-the-smoking

THE ADMINISTRATION’S ‘PANTS-ON-FIRE’ MOMENT

This administration’s latest narrative – that a rogue operation in an isolated part of the IRS bureaucracy was solely responsible for the scandal- is falling apart, just as Nixon’s “this was just some two bit burglary” narrative did in 1973.

The president has accepted the resignation of the head of the IRS, but many ask:

Where did the green light to use the IRS and other government agencies for the harassment of political ‘enemies’ come from?  

Who is Lois Lerner, director of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Division, protecting?

IR-2005-148, Dec. 22, 2005

WASHINGTON — Lois G. Lerner has been selected as the director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the Internal Revenue Service. In this position, she will be responsible for administering and enforcing the tax laws that apply to more than 1.8 million organizations recognized by the IRS as exempt from tax.

“Protecting the integrity of tax-exempt organizations is an important part of our enforcement program,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson.

 

It should be painfully obvious that (a) there was a green light and (b) it had to come from someone close enough to the president to speak with authority.

This is no small problem. The IRS is too powerful even when under the restraint of apolitical management.  Our democratic system will not long survive a politicized IRS.

The president expressed outrage at the IRS scandal, promising to “work with congress” to “fix it”, meaning to clarify the law, making it less ambiguous, less subject to misinterpretation. But that misses the point entirely: The authority and power of the IRS was abused by motivated individuals who are still in place and who still believe they were helping the administration’s political agenda; it was not caused by poorly written laws or policies.

In Nixon’s time, a trusted advisor, John Dean, went to the president and warned him there was a “cancer on his presidency”.  

Now there is a cancer in the IRS. 

No half-measures or rule-tweaks can fix cure a partisan malignancy that infects something this vital, as long as the same people who tacitly encouraged or actually performed the harassment are in place.

My professional experience taught me to be skeptical when habitual wrong-doers make redemptive, “trust me this time” promises.  As a public defender, I worked professionally in a milieu inhabited by crooks; and as a department head I encountered a number of ideologically driven political hacks.  For both of these subgroups, “Sorry we got caught; we promise to do better,” is usually followed by “the coast is clear; and be more careful next time…not to get caught.”

This cancer in the IRS will respond to nothing short of surgery (by cutting out the all the partisan personnel leaving only “clean margins”), and radiation therapy (by authentic and forceful policy reversals from the top down, reinforced at every level, transparency, accountability, evenhanded treatment without even the appearance of partisanship or ideological bias).

CAVEAT: Unless and until the tacit support by the White House political types for the harassment of Mr. Obama’s perceived political enemies is shut down, firmly and irrevocably, this cancer will not be cured.  

Responsible democrats (yes they are many, though cowed into silence) want a real fix instead of just a cosmetic one.  But that project requires that we have a sincere and honest president at the helm who will follow through.                                     ▼

BUT Where is that president WHEN WE NEED HIM?

“President Barack Obama said last week he learned about the controversy at the same time as the public, on May 10, when an IRS official revealed it to a conference of lawyers.” A litmus test suggests itself: When the president of the United States told us that the first time he heard about the IRS problem was Friday, May 10, 2013, when the press broke the story, was he being honest with the American people?

I am persuaded that any thorough investigation will produce evidence that the president was already aware of the IRS scandal, in other words, that he was lying in his profession of ignorance.  If/when that proves out, how can he be trusted to implement reform?  What a self-crippled presidency we must endure.  The calls for a fully independent special counsel to investigate should be heeded.

Just two reports that have surfaced so far. More will follow.

May 15, 2013

The White House’s chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the Internal Revenue Service likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups, a senior White House official said Sunday.”

“The investigation into the IRS’s targeting of the Tea Party and Tea Party-like groups has led investigators to information pointing to an August 2011 meeting in which the office of the chief counsel for the IRS was made aware of the issue.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

History never quite repeats itself, but it provides us with striking and instructive parallels.

On June 25, 1973 John Dean, the former counsel to President Nixon, recounted under oath a conversation he had with the President. Dean’s testimony was witnessed by millions. He described a conversation that took place in White house during the late morning of March 21, 1973:

“I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency and if the cancer was not removed that the president himself would be killed by it. I also told him that it was important that this cancer be removed immediately because it was growing more deadly every day…”

Nixon had a chance to salvage his presidency.  By opting for cover-up and misdirection, he left office in disgrace.  Obama has a similar opportunity.  But if he fails to move soon enough, with a very thorough housecleaning and full transparency, we next will hear the questions: What did he know? & when did he know it?

In the current environment and situation, impeachment is a fantasy, not an option.

Thirty months with a leadership vacuum in the White House is unacceptable. There is too much at stake:  The US economy risks being stuck in a new normal so anemic that the worst economic year in the Bush presidency will look pretty good by contrast; a dangerous, destabilizing jihad is being waged against us; Iran is determined to acquire a nuclear bomb, unless stopped by military force;  the prospect of a European depression is very real, threatening a damaging riptide effect on our fragile economy; the very survival of Israel is at risk; the burden of maintaining colossal public indebtedness is a dead weight  on the economy;  the American health care system and even the economy itself have been placed at risk because of coming Obama Care train wreck[1]; there is more….

Much of this mess can still be salvaged by bipartisan measures that this president has rejected out of hand. Change will not take place without a level of presidential leadership that the current occupant of the White house has yet to demonstrate.

Will we finally have a real president, a political leader willing to govern from the center by brokering traditional deals in the larger public interest, or will we be stuck with an embattled, self-involved orator, disconnected from political reality, a public figure lacking gravitas who has squandered public trust?

This presidency can be salvaged only by a decisive change of direction agreed to by the man who holds the office of the presidency.  A series of decisive legislative defeats may be needed to produce the necessary teaching moment.  Bill Clinton’s governance improved in his second term only when he faced a determined majority in both chambers that demanded a more centrist agenda.  He gave them a balanced budget and welfare reform and received a revived reputation in return.  The country benefitted.

Senator Obama campaigned on hope and change.  Without a significant change in his leadership and policy stances, there will be too much negative change and too little practical hope.

 

JBG

 

Copyright © 2013 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law, except for the quoted pieces from other credited sources

 

Permission is granted to forward the link to this piece or selectively quote from it with attribution.

For everything else, please contact the author by email at law@jaygaskill.com.



[1] See Obamcare’s Costs Revealed by Cherylyl Harley LeBon in Volume 23, Number 2 of The Newsletter of the Independent Institute. “A recent report by the GAO suggests that Obamacare will end up adding $6.2 trillion to the deficit (for two generations)” and “the future taxes on (a 45 year old making $75k a year) in order to fund Medicare weakened (after the funds transfer to sustain Obamacare) will be $87,127.”  The first use of the term “train wreck” to describe the implementation phase of  Obamacare was by Democratic Senator Max Baucus.

NIXON? IMPERFECT STORM MEETS IMPERFECT PRESIDENT

Also posted on the Policy Think Site –

http://jaygaskill.com/TheImperfectOpportunity.htm

IMPERFECT STORM

MEETS

IMPERFECT PRESIDENT

Analysis & Opinion by Jay B Gaskill

Scandals often converge like weather systems. At least three scandals are doing that right now to the Obama presidency, and their potential effect on Mr. Obama’s leadership and legacy has democrats losing sleep.

There will be storm damage, to be sure, but all the key buildings will still be standing this time next year.  Sadly, so will be all the critical, unresolved problems facing the nation. Will we even have a president then, worthy of the title?

 

SCANDAL ONE – THE BENGHAZI ATTACK AND COVER-UP

On the anniversary of nine eleven, in the heat of the 2012 presidential election, the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by organized Islamic jihadists using rocket propelled grenade launchers. Our ambassador, J Christopher Stevens, was seized, brutalized and murdered; two brave American defenders were killed, among others.  Calls for help were refused. Advance warnings were ignored.

Then administration officials floated a series of false stories, all in the “spontaneous demonstration”, “this was very tragic, but no help was possible” vein.

It is to be noted that an embassy grounds are American territory, and attacks on them are normally taken with the utmost seriousness. Only seven US ambassadors have been murdered in the line of duty. With the exception of the US Iranian ambassador under Jimmie Carter, Benghazi was the only other instance of the murder of an American diplomat during a direct attack on embassy or consulate grounds. The Benghazi consulate was a branch of the American embassy in Libya and enjoyed the same territorial status as the main embassy.

The Obama political firewall held until after the election.  Finally, the whole charade, as captured in the following summary of excuses and lies, has begun to unravel.

  • Security lapses in the State Department by an overworked Secretary of State (Mrs. Clinton who graciously said that, “The buck stops with me”), and in the White House (where the attitude remains “Buck, what buck?”), collided with the official “never criticize a Muslim” narrative.
  • This collision of spin and reality on the ground spawned murders, lies, and videotape…and patently silly excuses like “YouTube made them do it” and “we knew it was terrorism from the beginning” and “help was refused because it was (a) too risky, (b) too disruptive, (c) too late after we hesitated long enough, and (d) anyway, what does it matter now?” That last observation belongs to Secretary Clinton.
  • …And not a word as to why we are having this belated national discussion now, rather than in 2012, during the election.

Wait? The last question answers itself.

 

SCANDAL TWO – THE IRS POWER-ABUSE

A Cancer in the Bureaucracy

From 2010 forward, Internal Revenue officials singled out Obama’s ideological and political opponents, Tea Party, Patriot Groups and other conservative and/or libertarian organizations, for harassment.

When the mischief was exposed this week, an axe fell on the IRS head, a man who, like the president, professed ignorance as a defense. But this bureaucrat was asked to depart six months earlier than he had planned.

Note that our president expressed outrage only that the IRS was the agency at fault (pointing out that its credibility is essential for revenue collection).

Mr. Obama pointedly ignores other similar harassments from agencies like the Labor Department and the EEOC [Ask health product business leader Frank Vandersloot[i] about the smears and audits he has endured, not just from the IRS.]

Mr. Obama’s anger at the IRS seemed only partly genuine, leaving me with the strong impression he was teed off mostly at being made to look bad.

 

SCANDAL THREEE – THE SEIZURE OF ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTERS PHONE RECORDS

The AP chief went ballistic this month when it was revealed that the feds had seized private phone records. “In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.” {http://bigstory.ap.org/article/govt-obtains-wide-ap-phone-records-probe } The stated reason was a leak probe relating to a story about how the administration had foiled a terror plot.

AP said the government would not say why it sought the records but it is likely the seizure was related to a May 7, 2012 article about a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the US.”

{ http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/467559/20130514/ap-phone-seize-justice-dep.htm}

I note that the Obama administration quickly went public with the news of its successful anti-terror OP, having persuaded the AP to delay its story until the administration did so.

 

NIXON AND OBAMA COMPARED

Both liberal and conservative writers are doing the compare and contrast exercise.

May 17, 2013

It is Nixon Week at the White House

By Derrick Z. Jackson

 “Did people in the IRS believe that the Oval Office in some way granted them the authority to target conservative tax-exempt groups? Why did Holder’s deputy, James M. Cole, grant investigators authority to raid the Associated Press?

“Obama and Holder must stop this before this Oval Office is stained forever. In fretting about the Tea Party and leaks to the press, the Obama who promised us unprecedented transparency is rendering an unprecedented display of paranoia and abridgement of freedom.”

Derrick Z. Jackson is a columnist for the Boston Globe.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/Obama-s-transparency-seems-transparent-4523883.php#ixzz2TZBa1EcM

 

President Nixon was nearly impeached, having resigned before the House could vote on the matter back in 1974. What was different about Nixon’s abuses?  …Very little, actually.  Abuse of power in order to cling to power was common to both presidencies. Nixon may or may not have authorized the Watergate break-in, but he lied and tried to cover it up.  He had an ideological enemies list and used the IRS as a political tool.

But, in Nixon’s case, the media of the day were predisposed to run with the issue of power abuse, building opinion to a crescendo of outrage.  And, in Nixon’s case, key members of his own staff, including cabinet officers, had a sense of honor and patriotism that transcended party politics.

Recall all of the resignations in 1974: On April 30, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resigned. Then White House counsel John Dean was fired. Following that, Attorney General-designate Elliot Richardson appointed solicitor general Archibald Cox as the special prosecutor for Watergate. On October 20, Nixon fired Archibald Cox and abolished the special prosecutor. Then Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resigned.  Impeachment proceedings followed.

All of the officials who refused to impede justice and were fired or resigned were fellow republicans. In Mr. Obama’s case, one can argue on each side of the question which pattern of misconduct – if proved – was or would be worse.  But it will never come to that because the current Attorney General is a political operative, lacking (in my opinion) the sense of integrity, honor and patriotism of an Elliot Richardson or William Ruckelhaus.

There are other differences, of course. In 1974, Nixon’s job approval rating was in the 20’s while, today, Mr. Obama’s is in the 40’s.  Richard Nixon was never very likable, while general likability remains one of Obama’s strengths.

But a second term electorate is fickle.  In 1973, for example, Mr. Nixon’s job approval rating in early 1973 was still well over 50%, but dropped catastrophically when the implications of the Watergate break-in became evident.

This Is No Ordinary Scandal

Political abuse of the IRS threatens the basic integrity of our government.

By Peggy Noonan in the WSJ

We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate. The reputation of the Obama White House has, among conservatives, gone from sketchy to sinister, and, among liberals, from unsatisfying to dangerous. No one likes what they’re seeing. The Justice Department assault on the Associated Press and the ugly politicization of the Internal Revenue Service have left the administration’s credibility deeply, probably irretrievably damaged. They don’t look jerky now, they look dirty. The patina of high-mindedness the president enjoyed is gone.

“Something big has shifted. The standing of the administration has changed.

“As always it comes down to trust. Do you trust the president’s answers when he’s pressed on an uncomfortable story? Do you trust his people to be sober and fair-minded as they go about their work? Do you trust the IRS and the Justice Department? You do not.

The president, as usual, acts as if all of this is totally unconnected to him. He’s shocked, it’s unacceptable, he’ll get to the bottom of it. He read about it in the papers, just like you.

“But he is not unconnected, he is not a bystander. This is his administration. Those are his executive agencies. He runs the IRS and the Justice Department.

A president sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is too partisan, too disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads too. Presidents always undo themselves and then blame it on the third guy in the last row in the sleepy agency across town.

..

What happened at the IRS is the government’s essential business. The IRS case deserves and calls out for an independent counsel, fully armed with all that position’s powers. Only then will stables that badly need to be cleaned, be cleaned. Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if they don’t, the politicization of the IRS will continue—forever. If it is not stopped now, it will never stop. And if it isn’t stopped, no one will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering arm of the U.S. government again.”

Peggy Noonan

LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/declarations.html

 

In presidential politics as in life, trust issues eventually trump likability. Mr. Obama squandered so much trust on the Obama Care train wreck that his failure on the gun related issues was inevitable. The latest developments risk making that loss of trust permanent.

But, as matters now stand, Mr. Obama will not be removed from office over these three scandals.  He will not resign.

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Page

Obama suddenly has gone into overdrive to defend his administration against escalating scandal. He released a stack of confidential papers related to the handling of the Benghazi consulate attacks in an effort to brush away claims the White House was hiding the facts.

“He also spoke out to defend a Justice Department search of Associated Press phone records and signaled support for a media shield law, long desired by press organizations.

“Obama needs to take an equivalent step in communicating his concern on the IRS scandal by bringing in an independent counsel.
LINK: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/editorials/article/Get-beyond-politics-to-end-IRS-scandal-4523643.php#ixzz2TZB34Nfk

 

Mr. Obama’s announced ‘leadership from behind’ approach has granted him some ‘denial space’ in these matters, but leaves him almost no room to lead.

This could have been a signal opportunity to listen to the right with respect and attention, for a move to the center like the one that saved Bill Clinton’s second term.  But that would require policy flexibility, a willingness to practice handshake politics, and the capacity to inspire trust, even among one’s opponents.

Bill Clinton got it, and had the knack to pull it off.

This president shows no sign of getting it.

 

JBG

 

As first published on The Policy Think Site www.jaygaskill.com

Copyright © 2013 Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law, except for the quoted material

Quote from, link and forward this article as you will.

Author contact for comments and/or permissions is via email – law@jaygaskill.com .