From Strassel: The IRS Scandal Started at the Top – WSJ.com (Kimberly Strassel):
President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an “independent” agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.
But that’s not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn’t need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he’d like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. “He put a target on our backs, and he’s now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?” asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.
The president derided “tea baggers.” Vice President Joe Biden compared them to “terrorists.” In more than a dozen speeches Mr. Obama raised the specter that these groups represented nefarious interests that were perverting elections. “Nobody knows who’s paying for these ads,” he warned. “We don’t know where this money is coming from,” he intoned.
In case the IRS missed his point, he raised the threat of illegality: “All around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates . . . 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.”
Short of directly asking federal agencies to investigate these groups, this is as close as it gets. Especially as top congressional Democrats were putting in their own versions of phone calls, sending letters to the IRS that accused it of having “failed to address” the “problem” of groups that were “improperly engaged” in campaigns. Because guess who controls that “independent” agency’s budget?
The IRS is easy to demonize, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It got its heading from a president, and his party, who did in fact send it orders—openly, for the world to see.
There is an almost unanimous consensus that, when it comes to Syria, the United States has a “duty” to do something. The arguments for intervention range from spreading democracy to stopping the slaughter of civilians. Unfortunately, few have provided cogent arguments for why American soldiers should be killed and maimed in a conflict that is inherently sectarian and that will likely produce an Islamist, anti-Western regime as the final outcome. Furthermore, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the United States will lose more than it gains, no matter who wins. If Assad manages to hold onto power, Iran will continue to have the land-bridge needed to supply Hezbollah and other Islamist terrorist organizations along the Mediterranean. However, if Assad’s regime falls, then the Western world could be facing an Islamic theocracy with a bountiful supply of chemical weapons. This new regime will be positioned almost directly next to the Islamic theocracy that nearly has a nuclear weapon!
To demonstrate how abysmal the dialogue is when it comes to the appropriate response to the civil war in Syria, the New York Times printed this garbage in its pages. Proponent of self-determination, Dov Ronen, argues that, instead of promoting and fighting for democracy, the United States should encourage states to be formed on the basis of whatever tribe or ethnic group can stamp-out and crush those who are incompatible; racially, ethnically, etc. As he puts it:
States, in most cases, are artificially bordered entities created around ethnic groups and nations mainly through wars and treaties. President Wilson understood that self-determination should not refer to states but to “people” who are attached to their hundreds or thousands of years of traditions and hence do not want to live in their states under the rule of those whom they consider to be ethnic or national “others.”
The end of the Cold War was an important historical turning point. But it was such not because it proved the universal applicability of American democracy and its political and economic institutions. The end of the Cold War was a major turning point because it began removing, everywhere in the world, the restraints and self-restraints that the Cold War’s 40-year ideological confrontation imposed on human beings who wished then to rebel against their own ideological camp.
It is this removal of restraints and self-restraints that planted the seeds of rebellion around the world. It brought about the breakup of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia, and sparked a revolution whose participants in many states around the world are fighting for self-determination — and for their own version of democracy.
The revolution is a thunderous storm that is changing the world and leading to a new global order.
The ideological campaign to spread democracy around the world should be stopped. Instead, there should be a commitment to the promotion of a new global order based on the exercise of the right of ethnic groups and nations to self-determination in politically autonomous entities, and to the true version of democracy: people’s rule.
There’s no question that democracy, in its most pure form, leads to collectivist barbarism but, what Ronen posits is the most vile, primitive form of collectivism. He is arguing for the right to dictatorship; essentially, morality and justice are subjective, only existing in the minds of those who hold power. The “revolution” to fight for “their own version of democracy” is tantamount to what happened at the end of the Weimar Republic–after all, Hitler was elected to high office. And what followed was a state that was determined to eradicate anything deemed “impure” to the racial health of Nazi Germany.
Ronen is the byproduct of a society that has forgotten and abandoned the notion of individualism. The notion that the individual is the keystone to civil society and that any legitimate government must be shaped to ensure the individual is free of coercion, free to think, free to act. As long as the individual is considered an insignificant appendage of the group, the tribe, or the collective, then the Western world can expect to look more like Syria in due time.