While the numbers have fluctuated slightly since 2007, the trend has been largely stable since 2010. However, the percentage of U.S. adults who see corruption as pervasive has never been less than a majority in the past decade, which has had no shortage of controversies from the U.S. Justice Department’s firings of U.S. attorneys to the IRS scandal.
These figures are higher than some might expect, and while the lack of improvement is somewhat disconcerting, the positive takeaway is that Americans still feel fairly free to criticize their government. This is not the case in some parts of the world. Questions about corruption are so sensitive in some countries that even if Gallup is allowed to ask them, the results may reflect residents’ reluctance to disparage their government. This is particularly true in countries where media freedom is restricted.
This is why it is most appropriate to look at perceptions of corruption through such lenses as the Freedom House‘s Press Freedom rankings. Ratings vary among countries with a “free press,” including the U.S., and range from a high of 90% in Lithuania to a low of 14% in Sweden. The U.S. does not make the top 10 list, but notably, it is not far from it.
These data are available in Gallup Analytics.
Results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 U.S. adults each year, aged 15 and older, conducted between 2007 and 2014. For results based on the total sample of national adults in the U.S., the margin of sampling error has typically been ±4.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of national adults across the 134 countries surveyed in 2014, the margin of sampling error ranged from ±2.1 percentage points to ±5.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Read the rest of this entry »
At Americans for Tax Reform, Paul Blair reports: In 2013, more than 200,000 people on net fled states with Democrat governors for ones run by Republicans, according to an analysis of newly released IRS data by Americans for Tax Reform. “People move away from high tax states to low tax states. Every tax refugee is sending a powerful message to politicians,” said ATR President Grover Norquist.
“They are voting with their feet. Leaders in Texas and Florida are listening”…(read more)
But who’s to say they’re not bringing their economically self-defeating pro-Democrat voting habits with them? Along with their expectations for government services, benefits, progressive leadership, and inevitably, the increased taxation and economic damage that comes with it?
One view is that red states are gaining prosperity and influence, due to this economic migration of dissatisfied Democrats. Newcomers are abandoning overtaxed, poorly-managed blue states, embracing conservative fiscal governance, low taxation, economic opportunity, sunnier new horizons. But is this true?
Another view is that they’ll contaminate the states they migrate to, invading, like swarms of parasites, altering the electorate, eventually turning these states blue. If they migrate in large enough numbers, it will result in spreading the corrupt, malignant blue-state disease to healthy, welcoming, unsuspecting new hosts. When Democrats move to a new state, what makes us think they’ll do anything other than continue to vote for Democrats? How is this a good thing? Something to consider.
Source: Americans for Tax Reform
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court also demanded Clinton, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin provide assurances by Wednesday that they would not delete any federal records in their possession.
Sarah Westwood reports: A federal judge ordered Hillary Clinton and two of her top aides not to delete any potentially work-related emails after Clinton’s former chief of staff vowed to discard all electronic copies of her records by Monday.
“The destruction of federal documents in the face of a court order is par for the course for a Clinton-related scandal….If not for the swift action of Judicial Watch’s legal team and an alert federal judge, there is no telling what important public information would have been lost forever.”
— Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch
The order came Friday evening in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch seeking documentation of a controversial employment status bestowed on Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, that allowed her to work simultaneously for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and a consulting firm called Teneo Strategies.
After Sullivan asked Clinton, Mills and Abedin to certify under penalty of perjury that they had each submitted all work-related emails, only Clinton reportedly responded.
Mills and Abedin seemingly ignored requests that they had handed over all their emails as each continued to prepare emails for the State Department. Read the rest of this entry »
Alexander Hendrie continues: The House Oversight Committee report cites an officially transcribed
interview with John Minsek, senior investigative analyst with the IRS Criminal Investigations (CI) unit. Minsek examined the Lerner hard drive in 2011. In the transcribed interview, he notes Lerner’s hard drive contained “well-defined scoring creating a concentric circle in the proximity of the center of the disk.” The Oversight Committee report states:
“Using the CI unit’s digital forensic facilities, Minsek opened the hard drive and conducted additional tests. Once he opened the hard drive, Minsek noticed “well-defined scoring creating a concentric circle in the proximity of the center of the disk.”
Ameri-Shred’s AMS-750HD hard drive shredder will shred 900 to 1800 hard drives per hour, depending on your voltage and shred width. It can be plant based or placed in a truck for mobile hard drive shredding.
So how did the scoring get there?
Last month, testimony from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) revealed that Lois Lerner’s hard drive had “scoring on the top platter of the drive.” The testimony also noted that the IRS technician that inspected the hard drive believed that additional steps could have been taken to recover data, although this did not occur and the hard drive was later destroyed by an industrial strength AMERI-SHRED AMS-750 HD shredder.
Given these facts, it is logical to question how the “scoring” occurred and whether there was foul play involved. Here it what is known thus far:
– According to TIGTA testimony submitted to the Oversight Committee on June 25, 2014, Lerner’s laptop stopped communicating with the IRS server on Saturday June 11, 2011, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
– According to the same testimony,the laptop was likely physically located in Lerner’s office the moment it stopped communicating with the server: Read the rest of this entry »
When it was revealed in 2013 that the IRS had targeted conservative groups for exercising their First Amendment rights, President Obama correctly called the policy “inexcusable” and pledged accountability. He even fired the then-acting IRS commissioner because he said it was necessary to have “new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.”
“A taxpayer would never get away with treating an IRS audit the way that IRS officials have treated the congressional investigation.”
Unfortunately, Commissioner Koskinen, who took over in the wake of the IRS targeting scandal, has failed the American people by frustrating Congress’s attempts to ascertain the truth. A taxpayer would never get away with treating an IRS audit the way that IRS officials have treated the congressional investigation. Civil officers like Mr. Koskinen have historically been held to a higher standard than private citizens because they have fiduciary obligations to the public. The IRS and Mr. Koskinen have breached these basic fiduciary duties:
• Destruction of evidence. Lois Lerner, at the time the director of the IRS’s exempt-organizations unit, invoked the Fifth Amendment on May 22, 2013, when appearing before Congress; her refusal to testify put a premium on obtaining and reviewing her email communications. On the same day the IRS’s chief technology officer issued a preservation order that instructed IRS employees “not to destroy/wipe/reuse any of the existing backup tapes for email, or archiving of other information from IRS personal computers.”
“John Koskinen has violated the public trust, breached his fiduciary obligations and demonstrated his unfitness to serve. Mr. President, it’s time for Commissioner Koskinen to go. If you don’t act, we will.”
Several weeks later, on Aug. 2, the House Oversight Committee issued its first subpoena for IRS documents, including all of Ms. Lerner’s emails. On Feb. 2, 2014, Kate Duval, the IRS commissioner’s counsel, identified a gap in the Lerner emails that were being collected. Days later, Ms. Duval learned that the gap had been caused in 2011 when the hard drive of Ms. Lerner’s computer crashed.
Despite all this—an internal IRS preservation order, a congressional subpoena, and knowledge about Ms. Lerner’s hard-drive and email problems—the Treasury inspector general for tax administration discovered that the agency on March 4, 2014, erased 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 emails. (Congress learned of the discovery only last month.)
Ms. Duval has since left the IRS and now works at the State Department, where she is responsible for vetting Hillary Clinton’s emails sought by congressional investigations of the Benghazi attacks.
• Failure to inform Congress. Mr. Koskinen was made aware of the problems associated with Ms. Lerner’s emails the same month Ms. Duval discovered the gap. Yet the IRS withheld the information from Congress for four months, until June 13, 2014, when the agency used a Friday news dump to admit—on page seven of the third attachment to a letter sent to the Senate Finance Committee—that it had lost many of Ms. Lerner’s emails. Read the rest of this entry »
The number of pistols made has nearly tripled during the Obama administration, which could reflect more people turning to firearms for personal protection.
Tim Devaney writes: Gun production has more than doubled over the course of the Obama administration, according to a new report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“The ATF report confirms what we already know, that Barack Obama deserves the ‘Gun Salesman of the Decade’ award. People have been rushing to buy firearms because they’re afraid that Obama will take away their Second Amendment rights.”
— Erich Pratt, spokesman for the Gun Owners of America
The manufacturing boom has come in the face of the president’s push to expand background checks and place new restrictions on guns in the wake of high-profile shootings like the recent mass-killing in Charleston, S.C., and the 2012 massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
Pistols are the most popular type of gun, accounting for 4.4 million of the firearms made in 2013, according to the report. Meanwhile, gun manufacturers produced 3.9 million rifles and 1.2 million shotguns.
The numbers paint a picture of gun owners who are concerned about new restrictions on their Second Amendment rights, activists say.
“President Obama has been relentless in his attacks on the Second Amendment, and it’s not shocking people are frightened and want to protect themselves. He’ll stop at nothing to strip people of their constitutional rights to self-protection.”
— National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker
“The ATF report confirms what we already know, that Barack Obama deserves the ‘Gun Salesman of the Decade’ award,” said Erich Pratt, spokesman for the Gun Owners of America. “People have been rushing to buy firearms because they’re afraid that Obama will take away their Second Amendment rights.”
“President Obama has made it very clear he wants to strip away our gun rights, so people are going out and purchasing more firearms and ammunition.”
— Joe Neville, director of political affairs at the National Association for Gun Rights
The ATF’s annual firearms commerce report tracks the number of guns manufactured in the United State, which provides an indication of gun sales around the country.
“The gun lobby seizes on those fears and uses scare tactics and doomsday rhetoric in order to sell more guns.”
— Mark Prentice, spokesman for Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun safety group run by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords
The number of guns manufactured increased by 18 percent during the George W. Bush administration, while the Clinton administration actually saw a 9 percent reduction. Read the rest of this entry »
Now That Our False ‘Love, Mutual Respect, Equality’ Argument Has Achieved its Purpose, Let’s Dump it and Unveil Our True AgendaPosted: June 28, 2015
George F. Will writes: Conservatives are dismayed about the Supreme Court’s complicity in rewriting the Affordable Care Act — its ratification of the IRS’s disregard of the statute’s plain and purposeful language. But they have contributed to this outcome. Their decades of populist praise of judicial deference to the political branches has borne this sour fruit.
“Since the New Deal, courts have permitted almost any legislative infringement of economic liberty that can be said to have a rational basis. Applying this extremely permissive test, courts usually approve any purpose that a legislature asserts. Courts even concoct purposes that legislatures neglect to articulate.”
The court says the ACA’s stipulation that subsidies are to be administered by the IRS using exchanges “established by the State” should not be construed to mean what it says. Otherwise the law will not reach as far as it will if federal exchanges can administer subsidies in states that choose not to establish exchanges. The ACA’s legislative history, however, demonstrates that the subsidies were deliberately restricted to distribution through states’ exchanges in order to pressure the states into establishing their own exchanges.
“The Roberts Doctrine facilitates what has been for a century progressivism’s central objective, the overthrow of the Constitution’s architecture. The separation of powers impedes progressivism by preventing government from wielding uninhibited power. Such power would result if its branches behaved as partners in harness rather than as wary, balancing rivals maintaining constitutional equipoise.”
The most durable damage from Thursday’s decision is not the perpetuation of the ACA, which can be undone by what created it — legislative action. The paramount injury is the court’s embrace of a duty to ratify and even facilitate lawless discretion exercised by administrative agencies and the executive branch generally.
The court’s decision flowed from many decisions by which the judiciary has written rules that favor the government in cases of statutory construction. The decision also resulted from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s embrace of the doctrine that courts, owing vast deference to the purposes of the political branches, are obligated to do whatever is required to make a law efficient, regardless of how the law is written. What Roberts does by way of, to be polite, creative construing (Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting, calls it “somersaults of statutory interpretation”) is legislating, not judging.
” The paramount injury is the court’s embrace of a duty to ratify and even facilitate lawless discretion exercised by administrative agencies and the executive branch generally.”
Roberts writes, almost laconically, that the ACA “contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting.” That is his artful way of treating “inartful” as a synonym for “inconvenient” or even “self-defeating.”
Rolling up the sleeves of his black robe and buckling down to the business of redrafting the ACA, Roberts invents a corollary to “Chevron deference.”
Named for a 1984 case, Chevron deference has become central to the way today’s regulatory state functions. It says that agencies charged with administering statutes are entitled to deference when they interpret ambiguous statutory language. Read the rest of this entry »
IRS workers erased 422 computer backup tapes that ‘most likely’ contained as many as 24,000 emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, who has emerged as a central figure in congressional investigations, according to IRS’s inspector general.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Ohlemache reports: Investigators are blaming mistakes
by IRS employees — not a criminal conspiracy — for the loss of thousands of emails related to the tax agency’s tea party scandal.
IRS workers erased 422 computer backup tapes that “most likely” contained as many as 24,000 emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, who has emerged as a central
figure in congressional investigations, according to IRS’s inspector general.
The workers erased the tapes a month after IRS officials discovered that an untold number of Lerner’s emails were lost. The IG says the workers were unaware of a year-old directive not to destroy email backup tapes.
J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Oversight Committee about his investigation into the emails. The Associated Press obtained a copy of his prepared testimony.
George says his investigation “did not uncover evidence that the erasure was done in
furtherance of an effort to destroy evidence or conceal information from Congress and/or
Still, the revelation that computer tapes were erased after officials knew about the lost emails is likely to fuel conspiracy theories among conservatives who say the IRS has obstructed investigations into the scandal.
An IRS spokeswoman said Wednesday evening the agency had no immediate comment.
George set off a firestorm in May 2013 with an audit that said IRS agents improperly singled out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Several hundred groups had their applications delayed for a year or more. Some were asked inappropriate questions about donors and group activities, the inspector general’s report said.
— National Review (@NRO) June 25, 2015
Lerner used to head the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. In June 2014, the IRS told Congress it had lost an unknown number of Lerner’s emails when her computer hard drive crashed in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »
The darknet, the seedy underbelly of the Internet that search engines don’t plumb and only people with certain software can access, is a digital bazaar where everything from new identities, to a life-saving kidney, to credit card numbers and even the murder for hire, are for sale.
Malia Zimmerman reports: Government records stolen in a sweeping data breach that was reported last week are popping up for sale on the so-called “darknet,” according to a tech firm that monitors the private online network used by criminals and creeps throughout the world.
Credentials to log into the Office of Personnel Management are being offered just days after the announcement the agency’s records, including extremely personal information of 4.1 million federal government employees dating back to the 1980s, had been compromised, said Chris Roberts, founder and CTO of the Colorado-based
OneWorldLabs (OWL), a search engine that checks the darknet daily for data that could compromise security for its corporate and government clients, including government IDs and passwords.
” … the credentials and identities have been discovered online and are being traded actively.”
– Chris Roberts, OWL
“The recent OPM breach was identified, noted and the credentials and identities have been discovered online and are being traded actively,” said Roberts, who has been a consultant to a number of government agencies, but is currently at odds with the FBI over his reports, first published in Fox News, detailing the vulnerabilities of commercial airlines to cyber hacking. The FBI accused Roberts of hacking a commercial airplane, while Roberts claims he was simply trying to warn the government and industry of vulnerabilities.
“When these accounts are posted on the darker side of the net, they are usually ‘live’ and are part of a larger breach,” Roberts added. “They are typically parsed out and sold and distributed to interested parties, something OWL tracks.”
“They can target Americans in their database for recruitment or influence. After all, they know their vices, every last one — the gambling habit, the inability to pay bills on time, the spats with former spouses, the taste for something sexual on the side perhaps with someone of a different gender than your normal partner — since all that is recorded in security clearance paperwork.”
The darknet, the seedy underbelly of the Internet that search engines don’t plumb and only people with certain software can access, is a digital bazaar where everything from new identities, to a life-saving kidney, to credit card numbers and even the murder for hire, are for sale.
In addition to data from the OPM breach, Roberts said a new OWL search has uncovered another 9,500 government log-in credentials stolen this week from a variety of county, state and federal agencies across the nation, for everything from the Obamacare site, Healthcare.gov, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Census Bureau, and U.S. Court System to the Child Support agency and Unemployment Agency in Ohio.
Roberts sent a report to the FBI Tuesday, as soon as OWL discovered the data, because the information being sold could lead to more extensive government data breaches.
The frequent hacking of government databases – and the ease with which hackers can obtain log on credentials on the darknet — is having a tremendous impact on Americans across the nation and could impact our national security, experts said. Read the rest of this entry »
SMIDGEN REPORT SPECIAL UPDATE: IRS Created ‘Special Project Team’ of ‘Hundreds of Lawyers’ to Hide Information from CongressPosted: June 5, 2015
The American Center for Law and Justice‘s Jay Sekulow reports: New testimony reveals that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) used “hundreds of attorneys” to hide critical information from Congress’s investigation of the IRS targeting of conservatives.
According to new congressional bombshell testimony today, the IRS set up a previously unknown “special project team” comprised of “hundreds of attorneys,” including the IRS Chief Counsel (one of only two politically appointed positions at the IRS).
The “special project” this team was given? Concealing information from Congress.
The IRS’s director of privacy, governmental liaison, and disclosure division, Mary Howard, testified that soon after the IRS targeting scandal was revealed, the IRS “amassed hundreds of attorneys to go through the documents [requested by Congress] and redact them.”
Members of Congress have long complained that many of the documents produced by the IRS have been “redacted to the point of absurdity.”
Now we know why.
As the Washington Times reports:
Mary Howard, who also works as the head Freedom of Information Act officer in the IRS, told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that once the “special project team” was created and operational, she never saw requests for information.
“My understanding was that it started soon after the request came from Congress and other investigators asking for documents around this whole issue,” which she surmised meant around spring of 2013.
In other words, as soon as the IRS targeting scandal broke, the IRS set up a special team of hundreds of attorneys, including President Obama’s political head of the Chief Counsel’s office, to keep requests for publicly available information away from the person who would normally review those documents and turn them over to Congress and the public. That “special” team then overly redacted, delayed, and determined which documents it wanted Congress to see.
After setting up a special “group” to target and delay applications by Tea Party groups for tax-exempt status, the IRS set up a new “special project team” to delay and redact information from Congress about that targeting. Can you smell a cover-up? Read the rest of this entry »
— National Review (@NRO) May 15, 2015
Obama has always behaved like this. It’s just that he’s now doing it to Democrats, too. This is why we dislike him. http://t.co/6LDaH7ZySZ
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) May 15, 2015
Top officials repeatedly misled investigators without consequences. Congress needs to get tougher.
Cleta Mitchell writes: Two years ago this week, a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Information confirmed what hundreds of tea party, conservative, pro-life and pro-Israel organizations had long known: The Internal Revenue Service had stopped processing their applications for exempt status and subjected them to onerous, intrusive and discriminatory practices because of their political views.
“Lying to Congress is a felony. But the Obama Justice Department has not lifted a finger to prosecute anyone responsible for the IRS scandal, including top brass who repeatedly gave false testimony to Congress.”
Since the report, additional congressional investigations have revealed a lot about IRS dysfunction—and worse. But they’ve also revealed Congress’s inability to exercise its constitutional oversight responsibilities of this and other executive agencies.
Consider the repeated testimony and other statements to Congress subsequently shown to be false. The report issued in December by Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.)—then chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform—details numerous instances in which senior IRS officials, including former Commissioner Doug Shulman, Acting Commissioner Steven Miller and Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lernerlied to Congress, denying and covering up the targeting of tea party and conservative groups before the inspector general’s May 2013 report.
Mr. Shulman told the Ways and Means Committee in March 2012 that there was no targeting of conservative groups. Congressional investigations, the Issa committee report notes, established that at the time of his denial Mr. Schulman knew there was “a backlog of applications, delays in processing, and the use of inappropriate development questions.”
In the early months of 2012, Ms. Lerner made multiple false statements to Congress. In personal meetings, telephone interviews and written communications with congressional investigators, Ms. Lerner denied there were any changes in the criteria for evaluating applications for exempt status. She stated, falsely, that the intrusive demands from her agency for proprietary information from grass-roots organizations were “ordinary”—a characterization the inspector general’s report specifically rebutted.
Ms. Lerner also told Congress that “nothing had changed” about the way her unit handled such applications. But at the very time she said that, the IRS, including Ms. Lerner, had already identified seven types of information that it had inappropriately demanded from conservative groups between 2010 and 2013. These included donor lists, transcripts of speeches by public officials to meetings, and lists of groups to whom leaders made presentations.
Between May 2012 and May 2013, Mr. Miller testified before Congress on at least six occasions, first as deputy IRS commissioner, then as acting commissioner. He withheld information from Congress each time about the targeting. In a November 2013 interview with congressional investigators—well after the targeting had been documented in the inspector general’s report—Mr. Miller admitted that he became aware of possible IRS misconduct in February 2012. Read the rest of this entry »
The Clintons are protected from charges of corruption by their reputation for corruption
“No one has even come close in recent years to enriching themselves on the scale of the Clintons while they or a spouse continued to serve in public office.”
By the end I was certain of two things. A formal investigation, from Congress or the Justice Department, is needed to determine if Hillary Clinton’s State Department functioned, at least to some degree and in some cases, as pay-for-play operation and whether the Clinton Foundation has functioned, at least in part, as a kind of high-class philanthropic slush fund.
I wonder if any aspirant for the presidency except Hillary Clinton could survive such a book. I suspect she can because the Clintons are unique in the annals of American politics: They are protected from charges of corruption by their reputation for corruption. It’s not news anymore.
“Mr. Schweizer tells a story with national-security implications.”
They’re like . . . Bonnie and Clyde go on a spree, hold up a bunch of banks, it causes a sensation, there’s a trial, and they’re acquitted. They walk out of the courthouse, get in a car, rob a bank, get hauled in, complain they’re being picked on—“Why are you always following us?”—and again, not guilty. They rob the next bank and no one cares. “That’s just Bonnie and Clyde doing what Bonnie and Clyde do. No one else cares, why should I?”
[Order Peter Schweizer’s book “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” from Amazon.com]
Mr. Schweizer announces upfront that he cannot prove wrongdoing, only patterns of behavior. There is no memo that says, “To all staff: If we deal this week with any issues regarding Country A, I want you to know country A just gave my husband $750,000 for a speech, so give them what they want.” Even if Mrs. Clinton hadn’t destroyed her emails, no such memo would be found. (Though patterns, dates and dynamics might be discerned.)
“President Obama pressed for a memorandum of understanding in which the Clintons would agree to submit speeches to State’s ethics office, disclose the names of major donors to the foundation, and seek administration approval before accepting direct contributions to the foundation from foreign governments. The Clintons accepted the agreement and violated it ‘almost immediately.'”
Mr. Schweizer writes of “the flow of tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation . . . from foreign governments, corporations, and financiers.” It is illegal for foreign nationals to give to U.S. political campaigns, but foreign money, given as donations to the Clinton Foundation or speaking fees, comes in huge amounts: “No one has even come close in recent years to enriching themselves on the scale of the Clintons while they or a spouse continued to serve in public office.” Read the rest of this entry »
— Victor Davis Hanson (@VDHanson) May 7, 2015
Who will police the tax police?
Why did Rome and Byzantium fall apart after centuries of success? What causes civilizations to collapse, from a dysfunctional fourth-century-B.C. Athens to contemporary bankrupt Greece?
The answer is usually not enemies at the gates, but the pathologies inside them.
What ruins societies is well known: too much consumption and not enough production, a debased currency, and endemic corruption.
Americans currently deal with all those symptoms. But two more fundamental causes for decline are even more frightening: an unwillingness to pay taxes and the end of the rule of law.
Al Sharpton is again prominently in the news, blaming various groups for the Baltimore unrest. But Sharpton currently owes the U.S. government more than $3 million in back taxes, according to reports. His excuses have ranged from insufficient funds to pay them to sloppy record-keeping and mysterious fires.
Sharpton, a frequent White House guest, apparently assumes that his community-organizing provides him political exemption from federal tax law. He seems to be right, at least as long as the current administration is in power.
The Clinton Foundation is expected to refile its tax returns for 2010, 2011, and 2012 after failing to separate government grants from donations. If an average citizen tried to amend his taxes for such huge sums and from that long ago, he would probably be under indictment.
News reports of undocumented donations from foreign governments caught the foundation underreporting its income. The well-connected Clinton clan apparently had assumed that their political status ensured them immunity. Read the rest of this entry »