Never forget September 11, 2001

Sixteen years.  That’s how long it’s been since the worst terrorist attack in American history.  A total of 2,996 people dead or never accounted for.  Symbols of American power struck without warning: both World Trade center towers and the Pentagon.  The actions of informed passengers on a fourth plane likely averted a strike on the White House or Congress.

An entire generation had horrifying visions of previously unimaginable events happening in their own nation, with memories firmly etched into their minds.

They say time heals all wounds. And for the families of those lost that day I hope there is some measure of truth in it. But there is a flip side: such events fade in the public consciousness, such that they no longer inform or shape how the nation acts. To quote the opening of the movie “The Fellowship of the Ring,”

“…some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend, legend became myth…” (click “continue reading” below to continue)

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Land of infinite “second” chances

Last month, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General released a report about the Infernal Internal Revenue Agency.  That Agency, as you will recall, has been shown to have discriminated against conservative organizations trying to obtain certain tax statuses.  Nearly five years after the first revelation of this, there has been NO accountability.  Lois Lerner is gone, but was not penalized in any way for the wrongdoing on her watch (she was allowed to take full retirement).

Now the IG reveals the Agency rehired 200 (that’s “two hundred“) former employees who had either been terminated for cause or left while under substantiated investigation of wrongdoing.  That included four who were fired for “willful failure to properly file their Federal tax returns.”

To be fair to the IRS (…yeah, right…), they’re only following the example of the Veteran’s Administration, whose Human Resources department shuffles failing or criminal employees from post to post rather than letting them go.  (Yes, I know the VA now touts having fired 500+ employees recently… but the list shows these are mostly lower-level employees and a handful of physicians, not the highly paid failing leadership.)

THIS is the “swamp” many people elected Trump to “drain.”  THIS is why people have no faith in their government anymore.  Congress is bad enough, but the various Minions of MordorTM are like an infection you can’t cure.  In fact, much like an infection they seem to become more resistant every time there’s an attempt to fight them.

This permeates the whole of government.  As a supervisor I saw this first hand, as it took me over a year to discipline an employee who was unqualified to be in their position in the first place (and who made no effort whatsoever to become so).  There needs to be a wholesale overhaul of the Civil Service; one that ensures government “service” doesn’t become a lifetime gravy train regardless of performance (or misconduct).

I guess the Republican Congress could get around to that after finally fulfilling their pledge of many years to repeal Obamacare.  But that, of course, now has to wait until they’ve raised the debt ceiling (yet again). Oh, and a new fiscal year starts October 1st, but there’s no budget in place yet (status normal).  Then there’s the promise of trying for tax reform…   You get the picture: accountability isn’t very high on the list.

It never is…

A slow-motion coup

Pat Buchannan’s column today looks at how government officials are breaking the law to “leak” sensitive information in order to damage the Trump administration, and asks the question — where does this all lead:

Before Trump departed D.C., The Washington Post ran transcripts of his phone conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.
Even Obama administration veterans were stunned.
So, it is time to ask: If this city brings Trump down, will the rest of America rejoice?…

Our media preen and posture as the defenders of democracy, devoted to truth, who provide us round-the-clock protection from tyranny. But half the nation already sees the media as a propaganda arm of a liberal establishment that the people have rejected time and again.

Consider the (Washington) Post’s publication of the transcripts of Trump’s calls with Mexico’s president and Australia’s prime minister.  The Post was letting itself be used by a leaker engaged in disloyal and possibly criminal misconduct. Yet the Post agreed to provide confidentiality and to hide the Trump-hater’s identity…

…there is a far larger story here, of which this Post piece is but an exhibit. It is the story of a concerted campaign, in which the anti-Trump media publish leaks, even criminal leaks, out of the FBI, CIA, NSA and NSC, to bring down a president whom the Beltway media and their deep-state collaborators both despise and wish to destroy...

The Justice Department is now running down the leaks, and the ACLU’s Ben Wizner is apoplectic: “Every American should be concerned about the Trump administration’s threat to step up its efforts against whistleblowers and journalists. A crackdown on leaks is a crackdown on the free press and on democracy.”

That’s one way to put it. Another is that some of these “whistleblowers” are political criminals who reject the verdict of the American electorate in 2016 and are out to overturn it. And the aforementioned “journalists” are their enablers and collaborators.

Read the entire piece hereNot every leak qualifies as “whistleblowing.”  In fact, I’d say that most leaking in D.C. is done out of political motivation of some sort.  True whistleblowing is the release of information a government, business or organization is holding back simply because it reveals wrongdoing.  The classic case of this is, of course, the Pentagon Papers.  The Supreme Court upheld the publishing of the papers because they clearly showed the Johnson administration had lied multiple times to the American people about the progress (or lack thereof) in Vietnam, and because revealing the contents posed no direct national security risk (only a political risk!).  When such a concerted effort is being made to conceal the truth, going outside the system as a whistleblower can be justified.  There are, of course, many other examples of people who took great personal risk to expose wrongdoing.

But that’s not what’s happening today.  Nobody is claiming the release of presidential telephone transcripts reveals devious doings and attempted cover-up.  In fact, most of the “leaks” are more like the National Enquirer’s gossip-mongering (“you won’t BELIEVE what Steve Bannon and H.R. McMaster said to each other today!”).  It’s a scattershot rumor mill enabled by spineless weasels who put their vanity as an “unnamed source” to a reporter above their duty to the country.  The ACLU has it all wrong here.  Cracking down on leaks doesn’t threaten whistleblowing — it protects it from abuse.  Protecting whistleblowing means bestowing that status only on courageous individuals who see clear, unaddressed wrongdoing in a failing system and literally blow the public whistle on it.

Speaking of failing systems, that now seems to include our entire crony-infested government bureaucracy.  The public has a right to know a great many things, but their are legitimate reasons for the government to protect certain types of information.  Those who abuse that trust need to go to jail, period (including Her Hillariness and Huma Abedin, among many others).

The corporate press is also a failing system.  The Washington Post’s new motto is that “Democracy dies in darkness.”  Fair enough.  It can also be murdered in broad daylight by irresponsible officials working with reporters who simply want to delegitimize the last election because it didn’t go their way.

Because once the government is seen as completely and hopelessly illegitimate, it’s only a matter of time before the true “Resistance” begins. THAT’S where the road we’re on seems to be headed.

Rules? How quaint

This is how “representative” our governments now are: apparently you no longer have to actually, you know, LIVE in the district you’re running to represent:

Democrat Jon Ossoff dismissed concerns Tuesday over the fact that he doesn’t live in the Georgia congressional district in which he’s running for a House seat.

“I grew up in this district; I grew up in this community — it’s my home. My family is still there,” Ossoff said during an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”

If having family in a district is enough to be a candidate, most people would have plenty of options to run.  That’s not how it works, though.  And no, I don’t care that he’s “10 minutes up the road,” and just living there to “support his girlfriend in medical school.”

At least Hillary Clinton had the decency to move to New York and pretend to become a New Yorker before running for the Senate.  (I’m pretty sure she’d have never achieved that in Arkansas.)

Either a rule is enforced, or it’s not a rule.   This is yet another example of how we are no longer a nation of laws.  And that’s not going to end well for anybody, no matter what short-term advantages someone thinks they see.

On a related note, it’s nice to see people reminding Congress they have to live with the laws they pass.  And on this particular issue, it’s about time the rules were applied. Vigorously.

So when — or do — we get a reply?

A substantial number of Americans were in shocked disbelief when the FBI Director declined to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton over what appears to be complete and flagrant disregard of national information security protocols.

So many were shocked, in fact, that a petition requesting such charges be filed anyway reached the requisite 100,000 signatures within the first 24 hours of going live at the White House petitions website — far faster than the 60 days permitted for such petitions to reach the threshold for a response. (It’s worth noting the vast majority of these online petitions fail to reach the response threshold at all.)

As of today, a week later, there has been no official response from the White House, even though the petition quickly met the specified terms of engagement, showing the issue to be a pressing concern for the public. Given that the President is actively campaigning with Hillary at this point, it’s probably too much to hope for that he would overrule the FBI and Justice Department’s derelictions of duty.

By the rules of the petition site, the President has 60 days to respond (this would be by September 5th). But the fact the White House is not quickly acknowledging the expressed opinions of now more than 224,000 Americans — on a nationally contentious issue — underscores yet again how the voices of the people are ignored whenever they become inconvenient. It will be interesting — and instructive — to see if they bother to respond at all before the election. In the mean time, I would encourage any readers here to add their name if they have not already done so.

Your silence is deafeningly informative in this case, Mr. President.

Getting Trump’d

I will reiterate: I am not a fan of Trump.  While he has successfully latched onto already existing justifiable anger over the nation’s insecure borders and porous immigration process, in the long run I think his personal association with the issue may prove to do more harm than good.  That said, this commentary is perhaps the best explanation out there for why so many Americans are seeing something they like in The Donald.  Excerpt:

What Republicans are trying to figure out is not so much how to handle Trump as how to handle his supporters. Ignore or confront? Mock or treat seriously? Insult or persuade? The men and women in the uppermost ranks of the party, who have stood by Trump in the past as he gave them his endorsements and cash, are inclined to condescend to a large portion of the Republican base, to treat base voters’ concerns as unserious, nativist, racist, sexist, anachronistic, or nuts, to apologize for the “crazies” who fail to understand why America can build small cities in Iraq and Afghanistan but not a wall along the southern border, who do not have the education or skills or means to cope when factories move south or abroad, who stare incomprehensibly at the television screen when the media fail to see a “motive” for the Chattanooga shooting, who voted for Perot in ’92 and Buchanan in ’96 and Sarah Palin in ’08 and joined the Tea Party to fight death panels in ’09…

What the radical middle has seen in recent years has not given them reason to be confident in our government, our political system, our legion of politicians clambering up the professional ladder office to office. Two inconclusive wars, a financial crisis, recession, and weak recovery, government failure from Katrina to the TSA to the launch of Obamacare to the federal background check system, an unelected and unaccountable managerial bureaucracy that targets grassroots organizations and makes law through diktat, race riots and Ebola and judicial overreach. And through it all, as constant as the northern star, a myopic drive on the part of leaders in both parties to enact a “comprehensive immigration reform” that would incentivize illegal immigration and increase legal immigration despite public opposition.

The writer notes the GOP is a hybrid of two distinctly different groups: upper-crust elites whose status and wealth isolate them from the socially destructive policies they often support (like so-called “free trade”), and the blue-collar working class — the people George Bailey reminded Mr. Potter “do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community.”  (As someone who identifies with this ‘rabble,’ I can attest they’re also often sentimental about classic movies…)

What all this really comes down to is that this ‘radical middle’ is experiencing a rare moment of clarity, where they realize their interests diverge sharply from the agendas of the self-appointed mandarin class sitting atop the GOP.  So they are looking for alternatives.  That is a good thing.

What isn’t good is that we’ve been here before, and the GOP has a playbook for such crises.  It’s even hinted at near the end of the otherwise fine commentary excerpted above: the boogeyman of a Democratic victory.  Every time a Perot or a Buchanan arises to speak to the unrepresented grievances of what used to be known simply as “the middle class,” the GOP darkly warns that a split in the party will result in “the other side” (i.e. Hillary) winning.  As though there are actually two sides between the established political parties.  What this discontented electorate needs to ask in response to such entreaties is “so what?  What, exactly, would be different about an administration of GOP elites than one of Democrats?”  That card has been played in many elections, and yet Roe v. Wade has yet to be restricted, let alone overturned, immigration “reform” in the 1980s resulted in a second, even larger wave of illegal entries, Federal spending (and power) remains out of control with the national debt 18 times what it was 35 years ago, and now a Supreme Court with a GOP-appointed Chief Justice suddenly discovers the Founders would have been OK with gay marriage or with the Federal Government managing your health insurance.

It’s a classic abusive relationship, where the mandarins tell the plebes “just come back to me and it will all get better.”  Only it never does.  The GOP of the last 20-30 years is just as complicit in the damage done to our nation as the Democrats; maybe more so, because at least the Democrats tell you up front most of the time they’re out to “fundamentally transform America.”

The only “fundamental transformation” we in the ‘radical middle’ want is a return of accountability with some treasonous heads on platters, a return to the rule of law and strict adherence to the written Constitution, and restoration of the ethic of personal responsibility and self-sufficiency.  I don’t see either party offering that, except in vague partisan terms aimed at the other team in the quest for voters they fully intend to ignore after election day.

That’s probably because our political class, regardless of party, doesn’t really believe in any of what I just mentioned above.

So why do we vote for ANY of these parasites?

A prime example

…of why I ceased supporting the GOP several years ago (2004 was the final break, to be exact).  As an organized political force, they are no better for America than the Democrats.  In fact, they are often worse because they still try to hide behind the facade of standing for something different.  Case in point (and remember, this man was the GOP vice-presidential nominee in 2012):

Chief Obamatrade proponent House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) admitted during Congressional testimony on Wednesday evening that despite tons of claims from him and other Obamatrade supporters to the contrary, the process is highly secretive.

He also made a gaffe in his House Rules Committee testimony on par with former Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) push to pass Obamacare, in which she infamously said: “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

It’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to,” Ryan said of Obamatrade in Rules Committee testimony on Wednesday during questioning from Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX)

In other words, let your betters in D.C. decide your future, and then you get to find out what it is.  What, you thought the people still had a say in the laws that govern their lives?

Still think we live in a functioning representative republic?  Among the many provisions I’d like to see in an America 2.0 (which I’ll get around to compiling one of these days) is a minimum 45-day public posting of ANY legislation before Congress votes on it.  If they can’t be bothered to read stuff before passing it, at least let the citizens who give a &^%$ do it.  Waiting until another election to express your displeasure at bad legislation doesn’t work anymore.  Best to make them feel the heat BEFORE they sign us up to bad laws and worse policy.  Like the bailouts.  Or the “Freedom Act.”  Or Obamacare.  Or this…