Congress Adds 87,000 new IRS Agents to Pursue $204 Billion in Tax Fraud While 500 IG Agents Struggle to Investigate $160 Billion in Covid Fraud?

The addition of 87,000 new IRS agents has been celebrated by many as a way to capture billions in revenue to pay for the new bill on climate change and other programs. The claim is that increasing audits of people making over $400,000 will capture additional billions in revenue. That math has been challenged as wildly overestimated unless these new agents turn (as expected) to middle income taxpayers. The respected Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has also directly contradicted claims made by President Biden and the sponsors on increasing the tax burden for middle income families. What is interesting, however, are reports that the government believes that as much as $160 billion in Covid relief fraud exists and the government does not have the personnel or ability to recover most of those funds (or to prosecute most of the culprits).  A fraction of those 87,000 new IRS agents would transform this effort, but documenting and prosecuting Covid relief fraud does not seem as much of a priority in Washington. Continue reading “Congress Adds 87,000 new IRS Agents to Pursue $204 Billion in Tax Fraud While 500 IG Agents Struggle to Investigate $160 Billion in Covid Fraud?”

Joan of Arc Becomes Latest Flashpoint in TERF Fight

We have been discussing the ongoing controversies — and prosecutions — over what are called Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs). The term is used for feminists who have voiced opposition to transgender policies and laws that they believe “erase” or “marginalize” biological women. The most famous such figure is author J.K. Rowling who has not only been the subject of a global cancel campaign but was recently listed by Buzzfeed with figures like cult leader Jim Jones, Benedict Arnold and O.J. Simpson as “villains.” Now, Joan of Arc is a flashpoint in the debate after Kit Heyam, lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, called for the use of “they/them” pronouns and declared that Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth should not be viewed as females but “gender nonconformists.”  That has led feminists and others to object that Heyam and others are actually advancing gender stereotypes of women. Continue reading “Joan of Arc Becomes Latest Flashpoint in TERF Fight”

A “Disavowal of White Supremacy”: University of Virginia Newspaper Calls to Drop References to Thomas Jefferson

The Washington Post previously published a column of a George Washington student calling for George Washington University to be renamed. Now, in an August 11 editorial in The Cavalier Daily, the editors of the University of Virginia’s student paper are calling for all references to school founder Thomas Jefferson to stripped from the school. I have previously written about Jefferson’s history with slavery, including the call to remove the Jefferson memorial. Rather than remove memorials or references to Jefferson, this should remain part of a full and complete discussion of his history. Jefferson is indelibly part of the history of the university. Rather than cleanse the university of all references, his great contributions to the country can be placed in an accurate and frank context with his history of slavery. Continue reading “A “Disavowal of White Supremacy”: University of Virginia Newspaper Calls to Drop References to Thomas Jefferson”

The Incredible Shrinking Merrick Garland

 

 

 

Below is my column in USA Today on the diminishing role of Attorney General Merrick Garland at the Justice Department after a series of controversies. As a well-known moderate, many of us had hoped that Garland could be a unifying presence at the Department; assuring a divided nation that justice would be pursued in an even-handed and apolitical fashion. Yet, in controversy after controversy, Garland has failed to take modest steps to make such assurances. After well documented cases of bias and false statements by FBI and DOJ officials in past investigations, there was a clear need for greater transparency and independence in investigations. Garland has consistently swatted away such options. This week, Garland stayed on that path and refused to release any part of the affidavit used as the basis for the search of Mar-a-Lago. This included the possible issuance of a redacted copy or even responses to specific concerns over the timing or basis for the search. While Trump has called for the release of the affidavit, Garland will not even release those sections dealing with the account of the prior discussions and agreements with the Team Trump. There is little proactive effort to anticipate or address such concerns as vividly shown in the last week.

Here is the column: Continue reading “The Incredible Shrinking Merrick Garland”

Why the Case Against Donald Trump Remains Incomplete

Below is my column in the Hill on the lingering questions concerning any prosecution of former President Donald Trump for the retention of classified or sensitive material. As previously discussed, the three referenced criminal provisions do not require classified status of documents to be the basis for prosecution. However, if the documents were declassified, it would make any prosecution very difficult, if not untenable, though the obstruction count could be based on affirmative false representations made to the government. The point is only that we still do not have sufficient information to judge the basis for the raid or the prospects for prosecution despite the often breathless coverage.  The affidavit remains key to ending this speculation and quelling conspiracy theories. That is why Attorney General Merrick Garland should call for its unsealing.

Nevertheless, figures like John Dean are saying that defenders of the former president will “have egg on their faces” when this case is done and presumably Trump is prosecuted. Perhaps, but what is clear is that there is no such risk in others claiming an array of proven crimes for six years that were never charged. Figures who pushed the debunked Russian collusion, incitement, or bizarre attempted murder claims are now claiming with the same certainty that conviction is finally at hand. Once again, before the eggs fly, the release of actual evidence would be useful.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Why the Case Against Donald Trump Remains Incomplete”

Oberlin Faces New Controversy over Islamic Scholar’s Support of the Rushdie Fatwa

It appears that Oberlin has another major controversy on its hand. For the last couple years, Oberlin has been embroiled in a fight with a small family-owned grocery that it defamed over a shoplifting case involving black students. Oberlin lost $25 million in a record verdict but Oberlin President Carmen Twillie Ambar continued to refuse to apologize. In the meantime, the school seems intent on running the 137-year-old grocery into insolvency as it delays paying on the judgment. Now the school is under fire over a faculty member, Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, who supported the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. The author of Satanic Verses is recovering from a savage knife attack. Hadi Matar, 24, is accused of carrying out the stabbing attack and has expressed support for Iran in the past. The campaign to have Mahallati fired could present some difficult free speech and academic freedom questions.

Continue reading “Oberlin Faces New Controversy over Islamic Scholar’s Support of the Rushdie Fatwa”

Justice Department Accused of Taking Attorney-Client Material at Mar-a-Lago

Fox News is reporting that the FBI seized boxes containing attorney-client privileged and potentially executive privileged material during its raid Mar-a-Lago. When the raid occurred, I noted that the legal team had likely marked material as privileged at the residence and that the collection could create an immediate conflict over such material. Now, sources are telling Fox that the Justice Department not only took attorney-client material but has refused Trump requests for a special master to review the records.

Continue reading “Justice Department Accused of Taking Attorney-Client Material at Mar-a-Lago”

“Some are More Equal Than Others”: University of Oregon Sued After Blocking Professor Who Posted “All Men are Created Equal”

There is an interesting lawsuit filed against the University of Oregon after Portland State University Professor Bruce Gilley was blocked from a social media account. Gilley claims that he was blocked  after he tweeted “all men are created equal.” The lawsuit names Tova Stabin, communication manager for the university’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, as the sole defendant. Gilley may believe that “all men are equal” but the censoring of his post suggests that, as in Orwell’s Animal Farm, “some are more equal than others” at the University of Oregon.

Continue reading ““Some are More Equal Than Others”: University of Oregon Sued After Blocking Professor Who Posted “All Men are Created Equal””

Five Lingering Questions In the Wake of the Mar-a-Lago Raid

Former President Donald Trump has waived any objections to the release of the warrant and property receipt after the filing of a motion by the Justice Department. The motion, however, did not seek the release of the most important document in this controversy: the supporting FBI affidavit. That is the document that would reveal what the FBI told the magistrate about the prior communications with the Trump team and the specific allegations of the status of the documents in question. Continue reading “Five Lingering Questions In the Wake of the Mar-a-Lago Raid”

Twitter Permanently Bans Paul Sperry After Posting on the Mar-A-Lago Raid

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Twitter continued to crackdown on dissenting political views this week with the permanent suspension of columnist and commentator Paul Sperry.  The suspension came down after Sperry allegedly tweeted about the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago. Sperry said that Twitter gave “No warning, no explanation, reason given.” That is a signature for the company, which has little transparency or ability to challenge such private censorship. Continue reading “Twitter Permanently Bans Paul Sperry After Posting on the Mar-A-Lago Raid”

The Mar-a-Lago Raid: Criminal Prosecution or Political Indemnification?

Below is my column in the Hill on the raid on Mar-a-Lago. Questions continue to grow over the necessity for the raid as opposed to the use of a subpoena or other means. According to the Trump counsel, the former president was given an earlier subpoena and complied with it and then voluntarily gave the FBI access to a storage area and agreed to add a specified lock on the room. It is not clear why a second subpoena would not have sufficed if there were other covered material under the Presidential Records Act.

There is also a report of a confidential informant or source used in the operation. The only thing clear is that, while the J6 Committee does not appear to have changed many minds, the raid has. Any possibility that Donald Trump might not run seems to be evaporated with any likely challengers in the wake of the raid. That could change as we learn more details but the raid has galvanized Trump’s supporters. Ironically, Newsweek reported that the FBI was hoping the raid with Trump out of town would be a “lower profile” option — a notion that borders on the delusional. The lower profile option is called a subpoena.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “The Mar-a-Lago Raid: Criminal Prosecution or Political Indemnification?”

Poll: The J6 Hearings Had Virtually No Impact on Changing the Public Views

For months, we have been discussing the heavy-handed, one-sided approach of the J6 Committee in the presentation of evidence and witnesses. Both sides blame each other for the absence of a single Republican-selected member. Yet, the Committee treated the lack of balance as a license to present a rigid and scripted account of events and actions, including editing out countervailing views or evidence. For those of us who welcomed the greater transparency on the events of that terrible day, it was a lost opportunity to have a truly historic investigation akin to Watergate or the Kennedy assassination. The result is now evident and unsurprising.  A Monmouth University poll shows that almost 90 percent of respondents report that the hearings have made no change in how they view the J6 riot.  Moreover, despite the overwhelming cooperation and support of the media with the Committee, the vast majority believe that the J6 Committee was a political rather than investigative exercise, focused on opposing Trump rather than disclosing the facts of January 6th. Continue reading “Poll: The J6 Hearings Had Virtually No Impact on Changing the Public Views”

“The Whole Enchilada”: Pundits Wrongly Claim the Mar-a-Lago Raid Could Disqualify Trump from Future Office

The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago has unleashed a familiar euphoria among critics who have longed for–agents descending upon the President’s residence in a criminal operation. One MSNBC pundit declared that day of the “orange jumpsuit” may finally be at hand while another simply exclaimed “hallelujah.” It was a tad premature since we do not even know if classified material was found and, if so, whether there is a criminal case to be made from such a discovery. Continue reading ““The Whole Enchilada”: Pundits Wrongly Claim the Mar-a-Lago Raid Could Disqualify Trump from Future Office”

“An Attack on One is an Attack on All’: Time for a Red-State NATO-like Alliance on Boycotts

Below is my column on recent effort to boycott states over their abortion laws, a growing push for states to punish other states with measures like travel bans. While boycotts are an important expression of free speech by citizens, it raises more difficult questions when done by states seeking to coerce other states. It can create a morass of boycotts and tit-for-tat measures. This column suggests a way to end the practice through a simple deterrent measure based on Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. It would be to the benefit of all states (and our federalism system as a whole) to remove state-to-state boycotts from the political arena.

Here is the column:

Continue reading ““An Attack on One is an Attack on All’: Time for a Red-State NATO-like Alliance on Boycotts”

“What About His Son?”: CNN’s Stelter is Latest Media Figure to Suddenly Discover the Hunter Biden Scandal

C-Span/YouTube

I recently wrote a column on the sudden shift in coverage of the Hunter Biden scandal in the mainstream media, a shift that has coincided with widespread pieces pushing President Joe Biden to change his mind about running for reelection. As political and media figures fret about Joe Biden endangering Democratic control of Congress and the White House, there is now increased willingness to acknowledge the long buried scandal. Few are as striking as the shift of CNN’s media pundit Brian Stelter, who seems to have suddenly discovered that there are serious allegations of influence peddling by the Biden family.  After previously calling the Hunter Biden story “manufactured” and “whataboutism,” Brian Stelter is now saying that the story “is not just a right-wing media story” while asking “What about his son?” For those skeptical of the sudden media-wide conversion, it sounded more like “what about his father.” Continue reading ““What About His Son?”: CNN’s Stelter is Latest Media Figure to Suddenly Discover the Hunter Biden Scandal”