Sunday, June 2, 2013

Last Call For Government

The brilliant minds of conservative punditry are convinced this weekend that the IRS scandal is so fundamentally huge that America is on the verge of rising up by the tens of millions and demanding an end to Obama, the Democrats, and liberalism itself, leading to a new permanent era of Republican rule and FREEDOM and LIBERTY and stuff.  As such, they are trying to endless top each other about their calls for revolution against the government.

Peggy Noonan calls for an independent counsel because the poor people at the IRS were clearly forced by the terribly evil Obama administration to do...well, terrible evil.

There will be more hearings next week, and fair enough. But down the road an independent counsel is going to be needed because the House does not have all the prosecutorial powers an independent counsel would—the powers to empanel a grand jury, grant immunity to potential witnesses, find evidence of criminal wrongdoing, indict.

Another reason to want an independent counsel: There are obviously many good, fair-minded workers in the IRS, people of sterling character. They deserve to be asked about what they were forced to put up with, what they felt they had to bite their tongues about. 

There may even be a few stories about people who stood up and said: "You know you're targeting Americans because they hold political views you don't like, right? You know that's wrong, right? And I'm not going to do it."

It would be worth an investigation that breaks open the IRS to find that person, and that moment. You have no idea how much better it would make us feel, how inspiring and comforting, too. 

Because witch hunts are feel-good exercises. Mark Steyn at the National Review sees Noonan and raises with his call for the abolition of the IRS, civil resistance to its actions and apparently taxation itself.

So let’s take Obama at his word that he had no idea all this was going on. In that case, he might like to take the lead in calling for the abolition of a corrupt agency and its grotesque tax code, and their replacement by a bureaucracy with more limited powers commensurate with a free society and a simplified tax regime with lower rates and thus fewer bewildering, mercurial “exemptions” that make the citizenry dependent on the caprices of Ms. Lerner and her colleagues. That’s a prize worth fighting for. In the meantime, the next time the IRS call you up with demands for this and demands for that, simply tell them, “I am filing the Lois Lerner defense,” and then say as she did to Congress “I have not done anything wrong. And I will not answer any questions.” Every man his own Lois Lerner!

So much for those poor IRS employees.  They, and the agency, have to go.   But Rich Lowry gets himself on WIN THE MORNING with his call to bring down the entire federal government.

Needless to say, this is not how American government is supposed to work. It reflects the mindset of the Progressives rather than the Founders. “The Constitution was designed,” DeMuth writes, “to make lawmaking cumbersome, representative, and consensual; the regulatory agency was a workaround, designed to make lawmaking efficient, specialized, and purposeful. It was a way to accommodate growing demands for government intervention in the face of the constitutional bias for limited government.”

And it has worked: “It has enabled the federal government of a vast, populous, diverse democracy to partake directly in the everyday affairs of scores of millions of citizens and businesses.” Some of them, like the conservative organizations that applied for 501(c)(4) status and got harassed by the IRS for their temerity, we hear about; most we don’t.

The administrative state is an open invitation to high-handedness. My colleague Ramesh Ponnuru wrote a piece for Bloomberg View on Obama’s lawlessness. Most of the examples have to do with the administration ignoring or distorting the laws via the bureaucracy. Obamacare says that states have to set up exchanges before the subsidies and penalties in the law apply? No matter. The IRS says it will pay out subsidies and impose penalties regardless of whether states set up exchanges.

All that of course has to go, along with the current executive branch's occupants.  We'll have to start over.  And of course that means "with Republicans in charge of everything forever."

This is where the leading lights of conservativsm have brought us:  scorched earth government, where if they can't be in charge, then it has to burn down and be rebuilt until they are.

The CEO Of America, Inc.

Time Magazine got their hands on Mitt Romney's executive branch transition report, detailing what would have happened to America's federal agencies if Romney had won.  The phrase "America should be run like a business" will never scare you more after reading what was in store for us:

In the months before the 2012 election, a group of high-powered consultants and political operatives prepared a secret report for candidate Mitt Romney, explaining how he should take over and restructure the federal government should he win the presidency.

“The White House staff is similar to a holding company” read one PowerPoint slide, which would have been presented to President-elect Romney as part of an expansive briefing on the morning after Election Day. It went on to list three main divisions of the metaphorical firm: “Care & Feeding Offices,” like speechwriting, “Policy Offices,” like the National Security Council, and “Packaging & Selling Offices,” like the office of the press secretary. This was the view of the Presidency Romney would have brought with him to Washington, a glimpse of the White House that never was — and plan that never saw the light of day.

But now the secret is out. On May 29, the Romney Readiness Project, the Republican candidate’s transition organization known as R2P, published a 138-page report detailing how it prepared for a potential Romney victory. It is the product of a team of nearly 500, who labored in Washington and around the country to be ready to help Romney assume the reins of power on January 20th, 2013, in accordance with the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010.

Romney was dead serious about turning the federal government into a corporation, and turning executive branch agencies into divisions that produced "deliverables" and reach "metrics".

Even before the election, hundreds of staffers held table-top practice drills to game out how they would parachute into federal agencies to learn the ropes and explore policies and procedures for the new administration to change. Another team would work in “the bunker,” a secure room in the federal office building housing the transition where potential Cabinet and senior staff nominees and appointees were vetted. By Election Day, nearly 20 researchers and lawyers had prepared Romney to select his entire Cabinet and more than 25 senior White House staffers, as well as deputies for key departments and agency heads.

They were ready to go with the goal of making Romney the "CEO in Chief" of America, Inc. at the expense of the rest of us.  Absolute madness, this stuff. 

His plans for the first 200 days in office: repeal Obamacare, give the student loan business back to Wall Street, turn schools into distance learning centers, get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and give the mortgage industry to Wall Street, 5% across the board federal budget cuts by firing 10% of all federal workers, implement the Ryan budget cutting spending to 20% of GDP by 2016 (meaning most likely another 20-30% cuts across the board), turn Medicaid into a block grant program...and then take all of those savings and massively expand the military, add 100,000 active troops, come up with a plan to start wars in Iran and Syria and scrap nuclear missile treaties with Russia.
We would have been screwed beyond reason by a Romney Presidency...and remember, any 2016 plan for the GOP candidate will be far worse than this.

How To Train, You're Draggin'

Mediaite's Tommy Christopher has put together a thoughtful piece on fixing MSNBC's ratings woes over the last couple of months, and I'm inclined to agree with a good portion of it.

The good news is that much of this is fixable. The news cycle is cyclical (hence the name), and so without changing anything, some of this damage will repair itself. MSNBC has been heavily promoting its full coverage of the George Zimmerman trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin, which could easily make the Jodi Arias trial look like an episode of Judge Judy. MSNBC can also help itself by exercising editorial judgment that plays to its strengths, and serves the public.
But there are things that are more within Phil Griffin‘s control which can be changed. Ratings woes or not, All In is better suited to 10 pm, while O’Donnell is a known quantity who can plug the leak at 8.

I agree with Joe Concha that two hours of Hardball is too much, but I’d keep the 5 pm edition, and give 7 o’clock to a new, younger-skewing talent like Joy Reid, who has been getting a lot of guest-hosting under her belt. Joy has impressive new media chops, but with more reporting experience than a lot of bloggers, and a point of view that meshes well with the network’s fastest-growing demographic. She’d also be the perfect digestif to the more outspoken, and less journalism-focused, Rev. Al Sharpton.

I like Chris Hayes, but he can't handle the 8 PM slot.  Period.  He's a good weekend host, but the 8 PM slot is just too much for the guy.  Hayes is a pundit, not a host.  I mean he's better than Ezra Klein hosting, but he doesn't have the presence.  And yes, I understand what I'm saying when I spend a pretty good portion of my time around here bemoaning shallow, information-free news production on cable.  I also understand that if nobody's watching, there's no point.

And right now, nobody's watching Chris Hayes.  It's sad.  It's also true.  Hayes "bends over backwards" as Christopher puts it to get conservatives on his show.  The problem is Hayes is far too nice to call bullshit on his guests.  He's non-confrontational to a fault and lets quite a bit of GOP gobbledegook slide by without challenging it.  There are plenty of network news shows that already provide that service, which is why I don't watch them.  Lawrence at least fights back.

However, I'm all for Joy Ann Reid over a second hour of Hardball.  Let's make that happen ASAP.
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