Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cruising the Web

In the Obama view of government, the President is not responsible for what is done by the government because the government is so large he can't know what is going on. This is a dangerous view of accountability in government.
If the scandal is showing anything, it is that the White House has a bizarre notion of accountability in the federal government. President Obama's former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC recently that his guy was off the hook on the IRS scandal because "part of being President is there's so much beneath you that you can't know because the government is so vast."

In other words, the bigger the federal government grows, the less the President is responsible for it. Mr. Axelrod's remarkable admission, and the liberal media defenses of Mr. Obama's lack of responsibility, prove the tea party's point that an ever larger government has become all but impossible to govern. They also show once again that liberals are good at promising the blessings of government largesse but they leave its messes for others to clean up.

Alexander Hamilton and America's Founders designed the unitary executive for the purpose of political accountability. It is one of the Constitution's main virtues. Unlike grunts in Cincinnati, Presidents must face the voters. That accountability was designed to extend not only to the President's inner circle but over the entire branch of government whose leaders he chooses and whose policies bear his signature.

If the President isn't accountable, then we really have the tea party nightmare of the runaway administrative state accountable to no one. If Mr. Obama and his aides are to be taken at their word, that is exactly what we have.
Daniel Henninger expands on the dangers of Obama's theory of non-accountability.
It isn't just these scandals. Rather than delivering good, smart or transparent government, the Obama policy squads are doing what happens after they realize the "good" model isn't working as they planned. Then we get what's coming to light now—government that coerces people or pushes past the law's limits. This is government gone wild.

Here are two examples of the coercion default. The first is the administration's use of "disparate impact," a statistical divining rod deployed in a widening array of federal antidiscrimination lawsuits. Its leading proponent is Thomas Perez, the Justice Department official Mr. Obama nominated to be secretary of labor, a department whose enforcement powers blanket the workplace. A Senate vote for Mr. Perez is to confirm disparate impact to the outer federal galaxy.

Then there is ObamaCare's Independent Payment Advisory Board. This 15-member panel will order change in the health-care industry. Both of these represent a level of coercion—call it command-and-obey—that is alien to the American experience. Years hence, federal Dilberts toiling in some IRS outpost in Omaha will be blamed for abusive ObamaCare prosecutions. How is a busy president to know about beatings in the provinces?

The IRS audit scandal is this government's most famous break through the boundaries of the law. But arguably the greater grab for extralegal power was the president's 2012 "recess" appointments—overturned by an appellate court—to the National Labor Relations Board and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mr. Obama's goal was to get two potent bureaucracies in motion producing command-and-obey rules. The recess appointments and Cincinnati audits spring from the same well.

The idea that banks can grow too big to fail is seen by many as a danger to the system. The proposition forcing itself into public discussion in the second Obama term is that the government in Washington can become too big to be good.
For Obama, the government can do anything and everything, but there can be no accountability when the government "goes wild." That is why conservatives stress the Founders' view of limited government - because a government that can do everything, will do anything.

Nick Gillespie explains the President's unconstitutional approach to journalism.
The press-punishing, speech-chilling, and unabashedly overreaching actions by the Obama administration against the Associated Press and Fox News Channel’s James Rosen lay bare the essential dynamic between any president and a press that is always more prone to being lapdogs than watchdogs: the president feeds or punishes them as he sees fit, while chanting a bogus rosary about “national security.”
The former head of the IRS, Douglas Shulman can't even say that what the IRS was doing to target conservative groups violated American values.

The IRS scandal was the real voter suppression in the 2012 election. Even a Politico reporter agrees.

The IRS targeting of conservative groups is just another weapon used by Democrats who want to limit political speech.
Ignoring their own share of responsibility, campaign-finance reformers and their allies are now pressing to broaden the IRS crackdown to apply to all tax-exempt organizations. In their view, the problem is not only with express political advocacy, but with all tax-exempt activities that might have political overtones, or be related to political issues. Indeed, many argue that such organizations should be conspicuously apolitical.

This is wrong as a matter of law and policy. Congress doesn't have to provide tax-exempt status to social-welfare organizations, but having done so it cannot discriminate by the kind of advocacy in which such groups engage. To say that such activities can have no political implications is an insult to common sense. In a vibrant democracy, every major policy debate has political implications.

The spirited debate about policy issues should be at the core of social-welfare organizations. Politics is how we govern ourselves and political speech is essential to self-governance. The fact that 501(c)(4) group contributors aren't subject to campaign disclosure requirements is a good thing.

There is nothing inherently evil about anonymous political speech. It is firmly anchored in our political and legal culture and was used by the Framers during the founding. Hamilton, Madison and Jay published their Federalist Papers under a pseudonym. The fact that the IRS was able to target conservative donors—similar to the way donors to the NAACP were targeted at the height of the civil-rights battles—shows how disclosure can lead to speech-suppressing government actions.

Jon Stewart has some fun with all the lack of accountability exhibited by IRS officials who claim to know nothing.

Jay Carney's comparison of legitimate questions about Benghazi and the IRS to questions about Obama's birth certificate betrays the real contempt that the Obama administration holds for reporters.

Michael A. Walsh notes something about the leaks that the DOJ has chosen to prosecute by abusing journalists' rights.
First, note that the leaks they’ve opted to plumb are ones detrimental to the president’s media image as the scourge of al Qaeda and defender of the realm.

Second, there’s a big difference between actual spies and reporters doing their jobs. In the 1971 Pentagon Papers case (also an Espionage Act case, by the way), the Supreme Court took no position on the act itself, but ruled against the Nixon administration’s attempt to restrain The New York Times and The Washington Post from publishing the purloined Vietnam War documents.

Said Justice Hugo Black: “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

Not that any of this seems to matter to this administration, which openly refers to its ideological opponents as “enemies.”

So why would the White House Counsel tell the White House Chief of Staff about the IRS inspector general report and the Chief of Staff not tell the President? Was it to preserve "plausible deniability?"

George Will expands on the administration's unconstitutional actions with respect to recess appointments and the NLRB's continued ignoring of the appellate court ruling that their actions are unlawful because Obama's recess appointments were unlawful and the board lacks a quorum.

Andrew McCarthy explains how Darrell Issa messed up his handling of Lois Lerner's invocation of the Fifth Amendment yesterday. What I'm wondering is what will happen if he calls her back in light of her statement and says that she has waived her right. She'll take the Fifth again. Then what? The House holds her in contempt of Congress but then they'd depend on the DOJ to imprison her. And isn't this the same DOJ headed by Eric Holder who himself has been held in contempt of Congress to no discernible effect.

Karen Tumulty explains the differences between the Anthony Weiner and Mark Sanford scandals and how those differences make it unlikely that Weiner will win the mayoral election in New York City.

This is a truly moving story about how hundreds of police officers went to the kindergarten graduation of the daughter of one of their fellow officers who was killed over the weekend.