Thursday, August 27, 2015

Howard Beale Comes Alive!

Some people, and the media en mass, are flummoxed by the seemingly irrational appeal of Donald Trump. He is obnoxious, egocentric, politically incorrect, speaks in truncated non sequiturs and never fails to mention his accomplishments building buildings and golf courses. This petty feud he has with Megyn Kelly at Fox is emblematic of his inability to measure responses to perceived attacks. He is all about emotion.

At this moment in time, however, he has become a real Howard Beale, the epic character from the film "Network" who bellows, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Many people feel that way, and the present support for Mr. Trump is more visceral than rational in a political sense. He has not articulated any sort of programmatic manifesto for, as an example, reducing the size of our debt or the federal government. What passes for policy pronouncements are things like "I'm going to make America great again!" or "We're going to build a wall and Mexico will pay for it!" Whether he likes it or not, at some point, he will be forced to commit to some kind of vision for the future that is grounded in concrete, legislative proposals. To do that, I think, he's going to need more counsel than his buddy, Carl Icahn, to tackle a range of political challenges.

Getting back to the visceral response of voters to Mr. Trump, allow me to use one example that typifies the sense that there is no accountability in government. When it was first revealed that the IRS was targeting conservative 501(c)(3) groups during the heat of Obama's reelection campaign, the President said in 2013 their behavior was "outrageous" and intolerable. "They have to be held fully accountable...I will not tolerate it."

But not only has he tolerated it. As usual, he has plumbed the depths to find justification for it. In July 2015, he claimed that the real scandal was that republicans were not providing the IRS with adequate funding to do their job.

David Brooks, the NYT columnist often referred to as the token right-leaning Op-Ed writer, calls the Obama administration "amazingly scandal free". This could rank among the Top Ten Dumbest Statements ever made by an "expert" political commentator. Honestly, this statement is as patently absurd as anything that's come from Mr. Trump's synaptically challenged brain. Has Mr. Brooks' comment ever received any significant scrutiny or analysis by anyone? No, but then, you might say, he isn't running for President,

Lois Lerner, the designated fall gal for this particular scandal, (and, let's be honest: there have been many) who pleaded the 5th after explaining at a congressional hearing that she had done nothing wrong, has been permitted to "retire" with full benefits. In the meantime, we have been fed a battery of false narratives: it was the work of rogue employees in Cincinnati; Lerner's emails were wiped clean in some bizarre accident orchestrated by IT; Lerner's emails appear to have been recovered; and now we hear she was using multiple private email accounts for government business (speaking of which, why do all these Obama bureaucrats have this coincidental proclivity to conduct the public's business under private email accounts using pseudonyms? This is the "most transparent" administration in history?). To top it off, the Commissioner of the IRS, John Koskinen, has danced his way around the truth, has evaded and delayed legitimate congressional inquiries, and carries himself with an arrogance of power the likes of which reminds one of....Mr. Trump.

So: while the Justice Department makes regular announcements about pursuing police officers for civil rights violations, there is silence on the IRS matter. Why is Congress not impeaching Koskinen if Obama fails to remove him? Most difficult to understand, how is Lois Lerner not the target of some judicial proceeding? This is absolutely outrageous. Unlike many other scandals that have plagued this administration where a legitimate case can be made that they were "used" for partisan exploitation, that case cannot be made with the IRS. Obama himself said at the outset, "If IRS personnel...were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then this is outrageous...." But in typical Barack fashion, one year later he told Bill O'Reilly that there was not "a smidgen of corruption" at the IRS.

So, which Barrack is right? Whom are we to believe? Why hasn't the American court system made a determination of whether there is corruption or not? On what basis does the President make these reckless declarations?

This is but one example of the type of non-action that drives people nuts. Someone in government conducts themselves inappropriately and it's covered rigorously if it involves one party and is virtually ignored if it involves the other. No one believes anymore that Lady Justice holds the scales of justice impartially. She's peeking out from under that damned blindfold to see who the litigants are.

This is the wave of outrage and frustration that Mr. Trump is surfing. What he says at the moment is not important; how he says it means everything.

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