Though the recent examples involve a Democratic administration, Republicans have shown they are just as tempted to abuse the power of government.— Sen. Mike Lee, “Washington vs. the People” (via hipsterlibertarian)
At its core, the IRS scandal is not the result of one political party attacking another. It is the inevitable consequence of a federal government that has gotten too big and too expensive to control. The federal government’s massive bureaucracy is inherently dysfunctional, corrupt, intolerant, and incompetent — regardless of who is in charge.
These are not random incidents perpetrated by bad actors. They are systemic features of the $4 trillion enterprise known as the federal government.
Like most writers, I seem to be smarter in print than in person. In fact, I am smarter when I’m writing. I don’t claim this merely because there is usually no one around to observe the false starts and groan-inducing sentences that make a mockery of my presumed intelligence, but because when the work is going well, I’m expressing opinions that I’ve never uttered in conversation and that otherwise might never occur to me. Nor am I the first to have this thought, which, naturally, occurred to me while composing. According to Edgar Allan Poe, writing in Graham’s Magazine, ‘Some Frenchman—possibly Montaigne—says: ‘People talk about thinking, but for my part I never think except when I sit down to write.’ I can’t find these words in my copy of Montaigne, but I agree with the thought, whoever might have formed it. And it’s not because writing helps me to organize my ideas or reveals how I feel about something, but because it actually creates thought or, at least supplies a Petri dish for its genesis.— Arthur Krystal
A Conversation at the Atheist’s Car Garage
He was warm from his jaunt. The dusky glen laid cool hands on him. He rolled up the hems of his blue denim breeches and stepped with bare dirty feet into the shallow spring. His toes sank into the sand. It oozed softly between them and over his bony ankles. The water was so cold that for a moment it burned his skin. Then it made a rippling sound, flowing past his pipe-stem legs, and was entirely delicious. He walked up and down, digging his big toe experimentally under smooth rocks he encountered. A school of minnows flash ahead of him down the growing branch. He chased them through the shallows. They were suddenly out of sight as they they had never existed. He crouched under a bared and overhanging live-oak root where a pool was deep, thinking they might reappear, but only a spring frog wriggled from under the mud, stared at him, and dove under the tree root in a spasmodic terror. He laughed.— The Yearling, 1938
…much of present-day biological knowledge is ideological. A key symptom of ideological thinking is the explanation that has no implications and cannot be tested. I call such logical dead ends antitheories because they have exactly the opposite effect of real theories: they stop thinking rather than stimulate it. Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause! Sometimes one hears it argued that the issue is moot because biochemistry is a fact-based discipline for which theories are neither helpful nor wanted. The argument is false, for theories are needed for formulating experiments. Biology has plenty of theories. They are just not discussed—or scrutinized—in public. The ostensibly noble repudiation of theoretical prejudice is, in fact, a cleverly disguised antitheory, whose actual function is to evade the requirement for logical consistency as a means of eliminating falsehood.— Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert B. Laughlin, quoted by Vern Poythress
[Ezra] Klein is analyzing this in terms of ordinary political gamesmanship. But he has it backward. Suppose the IRS’s abuses were not ordered or explicitly encouraged by the White House. That would mean, as Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin puts it, that the agency “has so thoroughly absorbed the views of its political masters that it doesn’t even recognize when it has crossed the line into illegal activity.”— James Taranto
In other words, if this is the case, the left’s hateful and slanderous campaign against its political foes, especially the Tea Party—the demagoguery of Obama, his fellow Democrats and their supporters in the media, led by the New York Times editorial page—was sufficient to prompt the IRS agents to cast aside their professional obligations and embark on a campaign of political abuse whose effect was to ease Obama’s re-election.
In his testimony to the Senate Watergate Committee—whose hearings opened 40 years ago today—John Dean famously called that scandal “a cancer on the presidency.” If Obama, his campaign or his White House aides are directly implicated in the IRS’s abuses, this will be another cancer on the presidency, remediable by resignation or impeachment.
But if the IRS acted without direction from above—if it “went rogue” against the Constitution and in support of the party in power—then we are dealing with a cancer on the federal government. That, it seems to us, is a far direr diagnosis, one whose treatment is likely to be radical and risky.
Now, from the perspective of the journalists defending a consistent use of the term “fetus,” even when the term is inaccurate (see Gosnell coverage), here is the hard-news question of the moment. If the prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for [Ariel] Castro in this case, who did he kill? What human persons with full dignity and legal rights, under this nation’s current legal regime, died during these alleged crimes?— Terry Mattingly