“Torture” is Living In the Age of Obama

By: Eddie Clements

It’s as if the old poster-joke “the beatings will continue until morale improves” has been turned into policy. Hearing the semantic contortions of Obama administration spokespersons, seeing the endless parade of miscreants and incompetent thugs, knowing their intent to deceive, is cause to grate one’s teeth. Every new announcement, policy statement, or utterance by any member of the cabinet, press secretary, close advisors or The Boss himself is enough to chill the soul. Instead of tingles up the leg a la’ Chris Mathews, apprehension electrifies my spine, threading a magical course to settle heavily in the gut. Whatever new pronouncement issues forth from on high, you can bet there will be less freedom, tighter restrictions, favors to political allies, bad news for others and the jackbooted heel of the oppressor in the face of the political opposition.

One of the milder cautions was advanced by David Axelrod on “Meet the Press”. He characterized the recently-held Tea Parties as “unhealthy”. Since he is part of the Chicago crowd, this sounds ominously like Frank Nitti telling Al Capone’s rivals their public statements are “unhealthy”. If they continue, the White House will probably act to curtail the activity. That can be the only conclusion we can draw from an administration that conducts its business as if half the country’s concerns don’t matter. That the concerns of the participants don’t matter is provided by White House statements that the president “wasn’t aware of the Tea Parties”. If the investigative arms of the federal government can’t ferret out publicly held events, announced in advance, featuring a million people meeting in towns across the nation, how will they find out anything? We are supposed to accept these statements like the bland pronouncements made of the old Soviet premiers that they “have a cold” after not being seen for weeks.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Democrat, Arizona, has appeared somewhat less than a commanding presence during current events in her sphere. Her decisions produce unintended consequences that a general would be fired for were it collateral damage. Her unfitness for the role as protector of American citizens is exhibited by her distorted view of Americans versus our real enemies, alleging supporters of third-party candidates and returning veterans are potentially violent. She angered Canadians saying the 9/11 attackers came through that border, when it is a matter of known record they came directly to the U.S. It was the second slap at Canada, after trying to divert attention from the border with Mexico by saying the Canadian border presented real potential problems. If her obvious and therefore boorish ham-handed political antics occurred on the socio-political flip side in a Republican administration, she would have been laughed out of town. The current administration neither works up nor receives a hint of rebuke for the Secretary’s sad performance. Statements that won’t pass the laugh test are treated as serious policy, with consequences that confuse and dispirit the Secretary’s own countrymen and allies.

We were regaled with the presence on television of “Tax Cheat” Tim Geithner preceding his boss. The subject? Tax cheats. The administration has decided that wealthy Americans who hide money overseas and U.S. companies making profits abroad are using “loopholes” to avoid paying their “patriotic” share of taxes. This from a President whose cabinet appointees are riddled with tax scandals, and more. There is a difference between “tax avoidance”, legal strategies to lower tax liability, and “tax evasion”, a criminal violation. An example of tax avoidance is adding up your itemized deductions to see whether they exceed the standard deduction, to lower your tax liability. Everybody who does their own taxes knows this and does it, using “loopholes” in the tax code.

They chose an easy target, to be sure. Multi-millionaires with means to avoid paying what less well-heeled citizens pay to keep out of jail are not the most popular persons. Companies operating overseas that use tax provisions to avoid paying excess tax are more complicated. Unfortunately, in the eyes of Obama supporters and Democrats, managers of companies are criminally suspect as a result of cultural image-making and demagoguery. Whether they are actually violating the law is not as important as the perception that successful private businessmen deserve demonizing as a matter of “fairness”. As Rush has said, the Democrats have sold the idea that they can use the power of government to “get even” with the achievers, who Democrats say have unfairly gained wealth from the powerless.

Democrats and liberal-progressives like the term loophole because it connotes escape from accountability. It would never occur to Obama that his political kindred fellow William Ayers escaped well-deserved criminal prosecution due to a “loophole” in investigation procedure. Ayers is known to have committed the crime he was accused of; tax avoiders commit no crime. But “loopholes in the tax law” must be closed to maximize confiscation of legally earned wealth, while a free Ayers wields influence with the President.
The President gets points for monumental chutzpah if nothing else. Geithner prepared the audience to receive the President’s remarks. Geithner did not use provisions of tax law to lower his tax liability and avoid paying more than was legally required. He just didn’t pay. His action was characterized by the press as “a common mistake”. Really? Legions of government employees evade taxes? Isn’t that a scoop? Inability or unwillingness to research what his responsibilities were under tax law is an offense of negligence. He evaded taxes, a criminal offense, which along with negligence makes him double disqualified for the office he now holds. Like Charlie Rangel, who has even less excuse as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, these offenses are being pushed aside.

How they can stand their with a straight face and deliver joke after joke about evading taxes is a tribute to their absorption into the roles of nobility they have assumed for themselves. Increasing hubris has compelled members of the administration to be even more bold. When creditors resisted, allegedly a threat was made to “destroy” the reputations of creditors if they insisted on their legal rights for their clients. Equally brash is structuring the Chrysler bankruptcy to favor UAW as their new owners.

Businessmen are an identifiable target that has been frozen, polarized, and is being destroyed.

Personally, I am angry and insulted by all this, and feel not enough people are. The Tea Parties are a good start, but there is much work to be done to translate that movement into genuine blowback on the administration and Congress. Their shenanigans so far have caused disruption, but if allowed to continue, the result will be total destruction of everything we cherish.

Eddie Clements

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