Mike Pence: Political Dunderhead

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Since the FBI raid on former President Trump’s personal residence, the bureau has come under justifiable political fire. Former Vice President Pence, who increasingly is making signals he wants to break from Trump’s orbit, has come out condemning those criticizing the FBI.

Those remarks are being used by progressives, who want to exploit divisions within the Republican Party. Mr. Pence surely knew this would be the case so what is his angle?

What was odd about it was that just on August 9th, he expressed concern over the raid.

A week later, he seems to change his tune.

“We can hold the attorney general accountable for the decision that he made without attacking rank-and-file law enforcement personnel at the FBI”, he said.

Do you know of any prominent conservative, or even one that is not so prominent, who suggests “attacking rank and file agents?”  What is he talking about? Our problem is with leadership, and criticism should not be construed as suggesting violence at all.

We can understand that Mr. Pence wants a future in politics and we can understand he may have disagreements with Trump. With that, we are fine. But he is not attacking Trump with his remarks, he is attacking conservatives who dare to question the wisdom of politicizing law enforcement.

Incidentally, the FBI should primarily be an investigatory agency, but over the years has suffered mission creep. Law enforcement in the US, for the most part, is a matter of local responsibility. America is not the place for a federal police force for it is inimical to our constitution.

The justification for the raid on Trump’s residence aside, the FBI has been accumulating a string of failures dating back to the anthrax investigations, Richard Jewell, Ruby Ridge, and the slaughterhouse at Waco.

Of more recent vintage, is the direct involvement of high-ranking FBI officials in the Russia collusion hoax, spying on political candidates, lying to FISA judges, and interfering in the political process.

These systemic failures are worthy of critique. We want a well-functioning FBI to investigate crime and monitor the activities of our foreign enemies at home. Maybe they should have given us a head’s up on Iranian-sponsored assassins or the penetration of our institutions by Red China before investigating parents who object to drag queens performing in front of kindergarteners.

We conservatives support law enforcement as they are essential to ordered liberty. However, this love is not unconditional. We demand that they behave within the law, and stay out of partisan politics.

However, when they get out of line, we say so. That is entirely consistent with the conservative principle of limiting power and its abuse.

Do you have a problem with that Mr. Pence?

And the timing, just from a political perspective, was dumb. President Trump endorsed candidates basically are winning across the board. In Arizona, it was a sweep.

The raid has boosted Trump’s popularity. Moreover, we just got whistle-blower documents indicating Department of Homeland Security views anyone who questions election integrity or doesn’t like racism (CRT) being taught in schools, as “domestic terrorists.”

This is not only an insult to conservative Americans – it is flat-out dangerous.

Pence decided the political timing was just right to do something truly stupid. Mild-mannered classics and history professor Victor David Hansen spoke for many conservatives when he suggested the FBI has turned into a rogue agency and needs to be broken up.  Pence seems not only to have reversed course on his original comments, but he also seems not to know that the overwhelming body of conservatives, even non-Trump supporters, view the FBI as abusive.

The FBI should make it very clear it does not support the idea that those who disagree with Biden’s policies are white supremacists and terrorists.  This is especially from an agency that was mostly silent when over 700 riots swept the country under the aegis of Black Lives Matter.

In short, conservatives have valid reasons for suspecting that federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are being politicized.  They want it to stop.

Conservatives don’t want a third party.  They want to prosper within the Republican Party. Establishment Republicans are going to have to live with the MAGA agenda, and Mr. Pence should know that. He could be the bridge between those two camps unless he decides to detonate the bridge he himself is standing on.

Further, as a conservative, he must know that the abuse of power by federal law enforcement must be guarded against and that these agencies must not become political.

No one is suggesting violence against law enforcement agencies. We are asking that they be reformed and held to account for their misdeeds.

Mr. Pence, are you listening?

 

These 11 Defensive Gun Uses Show Protective Benefits of Second Amendment

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Editors’ Note: The collection of data is important to policy. Just as temperatures taken from heat islands can lead climatologists to wrong conclusions about “global warming”, so can incorrect data on the use of firearms can mislead policymakers. Professor John Lott is perhaps one of the best independent sources of information relating to firearms. Recently, he wrote in Real Clear Investigations:

“Evidence compiled by the organization I run, the Crime Prevention Research Center, and others suggest that the FBI undercounts by an order of more than three the number of instances in which armed citizens have thwarted such attacks, saving untold numbers of lives. Although those many news stories about the Greenwood shooting also suggested that the defensive use of guns might endanger others, there is no evidence that these acts have harmed innocent victims.”

So much of our public understanding of this issue is malformed by this single agency,” notes Theo Wold, former acting assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice. “When the Bureau gets it so systematically – and persistently – wrong, the cascading effect is incredibly deleterious. The FBI exerts considerable influence over state and local law enforcement and policymakers at all levels of government.”

We will leave it to our readers and Mike Pence as to why FBI data is so consistently wrong.

*****

testified before Congress’ Joint Economic Committee last month in a hearing focused on “the economic toll of gun violence.”

Of course, there’s no doubt that gun violence imposes a tremendous cost on society, both financially and in far less readily calculable ways. How does one measure, for example, the mental and emotional toll of being shot?

As I explained to the committee, however, lawful gun owners are not largely to blame for these costs, despite many insinuations to the contrary by gun control advocates. Most lawful gun owners never will harm themselves or others and never will add a single dollar to the overall bill for gun violence.

Meanwhile, lawful gun ownership provides significant but often underacknowledged protective benefits, enabling peaceable citizens to defend themselves and others far more effectively than if they were unarmed.

Almost every major study on the issue has found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times annually, according to the most recent report on the subject by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For this reason, The Daily Signal each month publishes an article highlighting some of the previous month’s many news stories on defensive gun use that you may have missed—or that might not have made it to the national spotlight in the first place. (Read other accounts here from 2019, 2020, 2021, and so far in 2022.)

The examples below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in July. You may explore more by using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

  • July 3, Surprise, Arizona: An armed citizen fatally shot a gunman who opened fire at a neighborhood Fourth of July gathering, police said. Witnesses said the gunman lived in the neighborhood and had engaged in small talk and eaten a plate of food before drawing a handgun and shooting those around him. He killed two and wounded four others before being fatally shot by the armed citizen. Police said they thought the gunman’s actions were unprovoked, but didn’t know his motive.
  • July 5, Houston: A woman was barbecuing with friends when her adult son showed up drinking and acting strangely, police said. The woman and her son went inside, where the son grabbed a rifle and fired more than 20 rounds at his mother before she fled outside. The son chased her, but was fatally shot by an armed neighbor who heard the gunfire and came to the woman’s defense, police said. The mother suffered multiple gunshot wounds, but was expected to survive. No one else was injured.
  • July 7, Pensacola, Florida: A local sheriff told reporters that a homeowner would “absolutely not” face charges for using an “AK-47-style” rifle to defend his home against three men who broke in and threatened him with a handgun. Police arrested two of the three men, one of whom was the subject of several active arrest warrants for violent crimes. Police were looking for a third man, who apparently was wounded.
  • July 12, Chicago: Police said that the holder of a concealed carry permit turned the tables on a teenager who started shooting at him in a restaurant parking lot. The man drew his own gun and shot his assailant in the hand and foot.
  • July 17, Greenwood, Indiana: A 22-year-old man with a concealed carry permit fatally shot a would-be mass shooter who opened fire in a crowded mall food court, police said. The gunman killed three people, but the permit holder saved countless lives by ending the shooting just 15 seconds after it began. Experts roundly praised the permit holder’s marksmanship after he hit the gunman with eight out of 10 rounds from 40 yards away, without any police or military training.
  • July 19, Kansas City, Missouri: Authorities said that a man won’t face charges after shooting and wounding an assailant who attacked him and his mother with a machete in a hardware store parking lot. The man and his mother were sitting in their vehicle when the assailant approached and began shattering car windows with the machete. He then swung the blade at them as they tried to escape. Although injured, the man managed to fire at least five rounds at the assailant, who ran a short distance before collapsing. Police charged him with several felonies.
  • July 22, Billings, Montana: Police said a man asked a hotel guest for a cigarette, then tried to rob him at knifepoint despite the fact that the guest openly carried a handgun. The guest drew the gun and shot the would-be robber when he lunged.
  • July 25, Williamsburg, Virginia: A homeowner and his family were sitting on their porch when an unknown man jumped a gate and approached, police said. The family went inside and locked the door, but the man tried to kick down the door and force his way inside. The homeowner fatally shot the intruder, police said.
  • July 27, Wichita, Kansas: A couple briefly left their SUV unattended in their driveway, only to discover upon their return that the car had been stolen—with their two young children still inside. Police said the man and woman called 911 while starting a frantic search. They quickly found the stolen SUV and held the teen driver at gunpoint until police arrived. Bystanders found the children unharmed two blocks away, left on the side of the road while strapped into their car seats. Police arrested three others, all younger than 18 and suspected of being involved in “numerous other crimes.”
  • July 29, Indianapolis: Just days after burglars “ransacked” his home, police said, a homeowner found himself again targeted by criminals. This time, he was home and armed when someone broke in, and he fatally shot the intruder. It was the second time the homeowner had used armed force to defend his home. In 2014, he shot and wounded another intruder, who was arrested. The homeowner told reporters that “you shouldn’t have to be armed inside of your house,” but that he hopes would-be criminals learn their lesson.
  • July 31, Norco, California: An elderly liquor store owner was manning the counter early in the morning when he saw on his security monitors that a man armed with a rifle was about to enter the store. The store owner grabbed his own shotgun and the second the armed man aimed a  rifle to announce a  robbery, he fired a single blast that sent the robber fleeing while screaming, “He shot my arm off!” Police later arrested the wounded man and three other suspects. Although the store owner was not injured during the incident, he had a heart attack shortly afterward and is now recovering.

As these examples underscore, lawful gun owners save lives and protect livelihoods. They routinely interrupt criminal activity and stop bad situations from becoming even worse. Significant evidence indicates that the threat of armed resistance deters many criminals from committing crimes in the first place.

And in this way, lawfully armed civilians help reduce the costs imposed on society by criminal actors.

Lawful gun owners are not a significant part of the problem of gun violence. The evidence shows, however, that they are part of the solution.

*****

This article was published by Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

Until Election Integrity Issues Are Fixed, Conservatives Should Not Stop Talking About The 2020 Election

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

The only way we can be assured of more secure, trusted elections in the future is if we continue to debate and discuss what happened in 2020.

Following the contentious 2000 election of President George W. Bush, former President Jimmy Carter and Republican James Baker co-chaired the bipartisan Commission on Election Reform. It issued a 100-plus-page document called “Building Confidence in U.S. Elections,” which treated election integrity, public accountability, and transparency seriously, and as vitally important to that goal.

Following the much more contentious 2020 election, we have instead been treated to an endless stream of official apologetics which seeks to convince the general public that this election “was one of the most secure in our history,” and that anybody who questions the results is acting in bad faith.

Now we have a recently released “bombshell” report by prominent Never Trump attorneys and politicians claiming to make “The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election” (the Ginsberg Report), which seeks to assure us that even conservatives should believe that the 2020 election was beyond reproach and that there really is no useful point in continuing to discuss or debate it anymore.

The Ginsberg Report Shuts Down Dissent

Rather than attempting an objective analysis of the 2020 election, the Ginsberg Report seems to have a different purpose. It appears to be intended to shut down reasonable debate about election integrity by linking all such claims with the most extravagant and unprovable theories of election fraud that were circulated by some Trump supporters in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election.

The objective is not to debunk the wild, baseless theories, but rather to dismiss valid election objections by tarring them with the same brush as the wildest conspiracy theories under the general rubric of “baseless claims of widespread election fraud,” and then dismiss the entire package out of hand.

By limiting its focus to select and often unprovable cases of narrowly defined “election fraud” the Ginsberg Report — like the Jan. 6 Select Congressional Committee hearings — is engaged in “a bait-and-switch presentation” designed to convince conservatives that all discussions about the conduct of the 2020 election should be dismissed as beyond the bounds of sane political discourse.

But even if there was no “widespread election fraud” in November 2020, as the Ginsberg Report implies, it does not necessarily follow that the election was not rigged to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. Stealing an election by fraud is not the only way to avoid losing, nor do election irregularities have to be “widespread” to have a decisive effect on the outcome.

Elections are rigged when systemic violations of election laws and norms occur, especially in areas that are key to an electoral victory, that strongly bias the results in favor of a certain desired outcome, which for Democrats in 2020 was defeating Donald Trump at all costs.

A Glaring Omission: The Scope and Influence of ‘Zuckbucks‘

One chief indicator of the Ginsberg Report’s disingenuousness is its dismissive stance toward one of the most significant irregularities in the conduct of the 2020 election. The report barely mentions the injection of approximately $332 million of private funds into select local election offices, mainly from Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg and the left-leaning New Venture Fund, through the Center for Tech and Civic Life’s (CTCL) notorious Covid-19 Response Grant Program. 

To give an idea of the scope of CTCL’s effort at “fortifying” the 2020 election, and the breathtaking disingenuousness of omitting all but a passing mention of it from Ginsberg’s supposedly comprehensive election report, one should consider the unique and outsized role that CTCL money played alongside Democrat’s already heavy reliance on “dark money” contributions in 2020.

A recent New York Times investigation outlined the advantage that partisan “dark money” nonprofits gave Democrats in the 2020 election. Spending by Democrat-aligned nonprofits totaled about $1.7 billion while spending by Republican-aligned groups totaled about $0.97 billion.

The IRS classifies these so-called “dark money” nonprofits as 501c(4) organizations. They are permitted to promote and disclose partisan interests, but they are not required to disclose their donors. But the Democrat’s partisan money advantage was considerably greater than the New York Times suggests.

Among Democrat-aligned dark money nonprofits active in 2020, only the Sixteen Thirty Fund — which spent $410 million — outspent the Mark Zuckerberg-affiliated CTCL. According to newly available tax data, the latter’s Covid-19 Response Grant Program cost about $332 million. The largest Republican-aligned dark money nonprofit, One Nation, spent just $196 million in 2020.

The reason that the CTCL does not appear on the New York Times’ list of major nonprofits aligned with either Democrats or Republicans is that it is registered as a non-partisan 501c(3) nonprofit.

Unlike a partisan 501c(4) nonprofit, a non-partisan 501c(3) nonprofit like CTCL must not have policy and spending priorities that are aligned with any political party or policy position. CTCL claims its aforementioned $332 million in grants was a non-partisan program to help underfunded election offices faced with unprecedented challenges in the face of Covid-19.

CTCL’s claim has been hotly disputed, however, and our research shows that the consequences of its grant program are in fact inherently partisan as a result of the geographic distribution of practically all large CTCL grants.

In order to get some idea of the edge this huge amount of partisan spending gave Democrats in 2020, it must be understood that CTCL’s efforts were not a matter of Democrats outspending Republicans on an election. The funding and influencing of election administration by private actors, whether explicitly partisan or nonpartisan, was essentially unknown in the American political system prior to the 2020 election. 

Big CTCL money had nothing to do with traditional campaign finance, media buys, lobbying, or other expenses that are related to increasingly expensive modern elections. It had to do with financing the infiltration of election offices at the city and county level by Democrat election activists,  and coordinating the outsourcing of many election functions to conspicuously partisan, leftist non-profits.

Those offices were then used as a platform to implement preferred administrative practices, promote absentee voting, conduct ballot harvesting efforts, and enter into data sharing agreements with private election activists, as well as to launch intensive multi-media outreach campaigns and surgically targeted, door-to-door voter turnout efforts in areas that were loaded with tranches of previously untapped, potential Democratic voters.

CTCL awarded virtually all of its larger grants — on both an absolute and per capita basis — to deeply Democratic urban areas. This partisan pattern of funding was especially apparent in swing states. Regardless of intention, CTCL’s geographic allocation of larger grants was prima facie and de facto partisan, which goes against the terms of its 501c(3) charter.

CTCL’s top 100 grants, totaling $242 million, made up 73 percent of the organization’s total spending. CTCL awarded nearly all these larger grants to election offices in either swing states, states with close Senate races, or in Democrat-heavy jurisdictions within contested, electoral vote-rich states like Texas and Florida where Democrats were overly optimistic about Biden’s chances.

What We Discovered About the CTCL’s Top 100 Grants

Our investigation of the national scale of CTCL involvement in the 2020 Election revealed the following well-substantiated facts, based on our analysis of the top 100 grants.

The arithmetic average partisan bias in favor of Biden of the top 50 per capita grant recipients was D + 33 points, but the population-weighted partisan bias was D + 41 points, indicating that CTCL spending on a per capita basis was even more biased toward Democrat-leaning jurisdictions than a simple average of grant recipients would suggest. This means the average CTCL grant recipient was a heavily Democrat jurisdiction in which Biden/Trump vote shares were Biden 70 percent and Trump 30 percent.

Only two of the top 50 per capita CTCL grants went to Republican-leaning jurisdictions.

Georgia received the most CTCL funding on a per capita basis by far, with 10 county grants among the top 50 totaling $41 million. The top 9 Georgia grants went to heavily Democrat counties, with an average partisan bias of D + 35 points. These top per capita grant recipients received about 90 percent of CTCL funds in Georgia. There are 159 counties in Georgia, the vast majority of which received no significant CTCL funding at all. Following Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, Georgia has only voted for the Democrat presidential candidate once before 2020, when Bill Clinton narrowly won the state in 1992. Biden won Georgia in 2020 by less than 12,000 votes or 0.3 percent.

Wisconsin received approximately $10.1 million from CTCL, but $8.5 million went entirely to “The Wisconsin 5” cities of Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee, and Racine, all of which rank among the top 50 CTCL per capita grant recipients. The average partisan bias of these cities — which received 85 percent of CTCL funds in Wisconsin — was D + 37 points. Biden won Wisconsin by less than 21,000 votes, or 0.6 percent.

Pennsylvania had 5 major grant recipients, which received $18 million. Approximately $15 million went to D + 64 point Philadelphia, and the Philly metro counties of D + 27 point Delaware and D + 17 point Chester. Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), received $2.05 million. The vast majority of Democratic votes in Pennsylvania came from the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metro areas. The average partisan bias of these 5 counties which accounted for 72 percent of CTCL spending in Pennsylvania was D + 27 points. Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by less than 81,000 votes, or 1.2 percent.

Five states received 25 of the top 50 largest per capita CTCL grants, which went to heavily Democratic jurisdictions in the swing states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and the electoral-vote rich “purple” states of Florida and Texas. Heavily Democratic states that were not in play in 2020 such as Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, and “safe” Republican states such as Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming that had no electoral college significance to Democrats did not receive significant per capita CTCL funding.

Preliminary research from Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin suggests that rather than addressing general election funding shortfalls, CTCL’s grant program created two-tier election systems in states in which they invested heavily, where CTCL grants exacerbated already existing funding disparities between Democrat-leaning jurisdictions and their Republican counterparts. Combining 2020 election budget figures with CTCL grants shows Democrat jurisdictions in these states ended up with 3 to 5 times the per capita election budgets of Republican jurisdictions.

The largest grant in absolute terms was to New York City at approximately $19 million and the 100th largest was to Hillsborough County, FL at $671,280. Of the top 50 grants in absolute amounts, none went to Republican-leaning jurisdictions.

It is ludicrous to insist that such a carefully targeted and lavishly funded effort at pumping up voter turnout in heavily Democrat urban areas had no significant impact on Joe Biden’s vote totals. If CTCL spending did not involve “rigging” the election in favor of Joe Biden in a way that is now illegal in over 20 states (with Pennsylvania being a surprising, recent addition to the list) we do not know what to call it.

The fact that the important CTCL story was glaringly omitted from the Ginsberg Report provides a major clue to us that its main purpose was to conceal problems with the 2020 election and attempt to silence critics. Its “shock and awe” approach to bludgeoning the reader into submission with its meticulously footnoted appearance of disinterested scholarship, formidable length, and legalistic format, suggests a seriousness of purpose that unfortunately is substantively absent.

The only way we can be assured of more secure, trusted elections in the future is if we continue to debate and discuss what happened in 2020, with an eye toward preventing similar problems from occurring in the future.

Conservatives can stop talking about the 2020 election and it will be time to “move on” when the phony “debunking” sophistry stops, and the national debate returns to fixing obvious problems with the way the 2020 election was conducted. We can stop talking about the 2020 election when others stop attempting to cover its problems up in the interest of protecting a faltering Biden regime, and the establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle who have gone “all in” on supporting it.

Never Trump Republicans who are more intent on policing dissent among conservatives than supporting transparent and trustworthy elections must not be allowed to have the last word in this discussion.

*****

This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.

With 87,000 New Agents on Way, 4 Facts About IRS Gun Arsenal

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Some of the 87,000 new agents whom Democrats propose to hire at the Internal Revenue Service could come with some extra firepower.

On Friday, House Democrats gave final passage to the tax and spending bill they dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, which, among other things, would double the size of the IRS with 87,000 new agents to beef up enforcement.

As of two years ago, the IRS had an arsenal of 4,600 guns, reported OpenTheBooks, a government watchdog group. 

Two federal investigations in the past decade found that IRS agents had not been sufficiently trained and were accident-prone with the weapons they have. Armed IRS raids on nonviolent taxpayers surfaced as a concern almost 25 years ago during a Senate hearing. 

Democrats’ bill, which the Senate passed Sunday, awaits the signature of President Joe Biden should it clear the House as early as Friday [it did].

The legislation, which unwinds from 2023 through 2031, would devote $80 billion to expanding the IRS and boosting tax revenue to pay for Democrats’ green energy subsidies and other pet projects.

Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group that opposes the legislation, assembled information about the IRS arsenal from government and media reports.

During the House floor debate Friday, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., raised concerns about arming IRS agents.

“This bill has new IRS agents and they are armed, and the job description tells them that they need to be required to carry a firearm and expect to use deadly force if necessary,” Boebert said. “Excessive taxation is theft. You are using the power of the federal government for armed robbery on the taxpayers.”

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., suggested that no IRS agents are armed.

“The idea that they are armed—I know that Ms. Boebert would like everybody to be armed, but that’s not what IRS agents do,” Yarmuth said. “I would implore my Republican colleagues to cut out the scare tactics. Quit making things up.”

In a posted job opening for a special agent, the IRS specified that applicants should be “willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments,” and able to carry “a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.”

After sparking some controversy amid the proposed expansion of the agency, the IRS deleted “willing to use deadly force” from the job description.

The IRS referred questions to the Treasury Department as to whether the arsenal would increase as the number of personnel multiplied.

The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment for this report.

Here are four key things to know about the Internal Revenue Service and weapons.

1. IRS Guns and Ammo

The current IRS workforce includes 78,661 full-time employees, so Democrats’ legislation, if passed as written, would more than double the agency’s employees.

A 2020 report from OpenTheBooks, titled “The Militarization of the U.S. Executive Agencies,” shows that the IRS Criminal Investigation division has a stockpile of 4,600 guns.

The firearms include 3,282 pistols, 621 shotguns, 539 rifles, 15 fully automatic firearms, and four revolvers, the report says.

The Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency, reported in 2018 that the IRS had 3.1 million rounds of ammunition for pistols and revolvers. 

The tax agency had 1.4 million rounds of ammunition for rifles, the GAO report said, along with 367,750 shotgun rounds and 56,000 rounds for automatic weapons.

2. Armed Agents ‘Not Properly Trained’

The IRS’s National Criminal Investigation Training Academy has the responsibility to implement firearms training and a related qualification program nationwide.

However, IRS agents assigned to the Criminal Investigation division regularly failed to stay up to date with training or to report incidents of improper firearms use, according to a 2018 report from the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration.

The inspector general’s report notes that “there is no national-level review of firearms training records to ensure that all special agents meet the qualification requirements.”

“Special agents not properly trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to possible litigation over injuries or for damages,” the report says.

For qualification, each agent must score 75% or higher on the firing range, but the IRS lacked documentation showing its agents met the standards, according to the inspector general.

The report says that 79 of the 459 special agents in the agency’s long gun cadre failed to meet standard qualification requirements. Further, the report says the IRS could not provide information about whether 1,500 special agents were trained in tactical equipment proficiency.

In fiscal year 2016, the inspector general’s report determined, that the IRS Criminal Investigation division “did not maintain documented evidence that 145 out of 2,126 special agents met the firearm standards established by CI [Criminal Investigation] and therefore were not qualified law enforcement officers.”

3. More Unintended Discharges Than Intended Ones

The poor firearms training for IRS agents has led to more accidental firings than intentional firings, according to a separate inspector general’s report from 2012. 

“Having the availability of deadly force puts hiring so many new agents into perspective,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told The Daily Signal.

The inspector general for tax administration “found they fired their guns more times by accident than on purpose,” Norquist said. “I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.”

The poor training was not a new problem, since the 2012 report from the inspector general found similar issues with firearms training.

“If there is insufficient oversight, special agents in possession of firearms who are not properly trained and qualified could endanger other special agents and the public,” the report says.

The 2012 report not only found that IRS agents fired their weapons by accident more times than intentionally, but that the agency concealed details about the accidental discharges.

“There were a total of eight firearm discharges classified as intentional use of force incidents and 11 discharges classified as accidental during FYs 2009 through 2011,” the report says.

And, the inspector general’s report continues, “we found that four accidental discharges were not properly reported.”

It says that “the accidental discharges may have resulted in property damage or personal injury.”

The public report, however, redacts four references to unreported accidental discharges of firearms.

4. IRS History of Armed Raids

In 1998, the Senate Finance Committee held investigative hearings into IRS abuses that featured testimony from a Virginia restaurant owner.

The restaurant owner said that armed IRS agents with drug-sniffing dogs burst into his restaurant during breakfast hours and ordered customers to get out.

Agents took his cash register and records, the restaurant owner told the Senate committee. When he returned home, he found that his door had been kicked open and his residence had been raided.

A tax preparer from Oklahoma gave similar testimony, saying that about 15 armed IRS agents came to his business and harassed his clients.

The owner of a Texas oil company recounted that agents came to his office and told employees: “Remove your hands from the keyboards and back away from the computers. And remember, we’re armed!”

In each case, the agents came up empty-handed.

The Washington Post reported at the time that Democrat and Republican lawmakers alike expressed dismay and that the Clinton administration’s IRS commissioner, Charles O. Rossotti, promised an investigation of such actions.

At a separate hearing that year before the same Senate committee, Treasury Department’s inspector general, Harry G. Patsalides, told senators that the IRS had tolerated car thefts and anonymous bullying by promoting an agent accused of sexual harassment and allowing agents to conduct armed raids on nonviolent taxpayers.

*****

This article was published by Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

Biden, Harding, and a Ray of Hope

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Among the treasured books in my collection is Lost Men of American History, compiled by Stewart H. Holbrook — copyright 1946. Say again, 1946. I purchased it for 25 cents at an elementary school fundraising book sale.

One chapter is about the “most corrupt presidential administration in history” (up to that point), that of Warren G. Harding, described (in essence) by the author as an empty suit, an accidental president, controlled by corrupt cronies.

“Nor was Harding elected through any personal merit, for the American people, except for Ohioans, had never heard of him. But that mattered not at all. What elected Harding was the fact that the people were voting against a man who was not a candidate – Woodrow Wilson… So men voted in savage resentment against the memory of Wilson, and Harding was elected.”

In Biden’s case, he ran against a man who was a candidate – Donald Trump. However, Trump had been so vilified by Biden’s party and their ex officio department of propaganda – the American “news” media — that nobody voted for Biden; rather they voted against the bogeyman Trump. Thus, an empty suit controlled by corrupt cronies once again occupies the White House.

“Corruption on such a mighty scale automatically assured the Harding regime of a safe place in any history of the United States. But the historical importance of Harding himself rests on a firmer foundation.  …he seems to have been the only President who neither in private nor public ever gave utterance to anything that could be called an idea.”

Does that sound familiar?

“The Veteran’s Bureau was in disgrace. So was the alien property custodian’s office. So, very soon, was what somebody called the department of easy virtue – meaning the Department of Justice. The department’s FBI, it will be remembered, was headed in the Harding administration by the fragrant William J. Burns. Under Burns the bureau was turned into a smearing weapon, used against senators, congressmen and others who sought to find anything wrong with the administration.”

So, we see, the FBI has been used before (and fairly routinely since) as a smearing weapon, launching “investigations” into anybody who threatened to expose the corruption of the faction that controlled it. Such investigations never went anywhere, but by the time the charges were dropped or disproven, the subject’s life had been ruined, and the threat neutralized.

“That is why I believe the administration of Warren G. Harding to have been one of the most valuable the Republic has ever had. It demonstrated our strength as a nation, our lasting qualities, in a manner that left no doubt. If we Americans could live through that period, and those of Coolidge and Hoover, including the long horror of Prohibition – if we could pass through those trials and find our system still workable, then he is a skeptic indeed who doubts that the United States continues to have a future.”

Just so. If we could get through the Harding administration, then there is at least some hope that we might survive the Biden administration.

 

The “Inflation Reduction Act” Will Do Almost Nothing That Joe Manchin Says It Will

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Editors Note: The following is an excellent analysis of this atrocious piece of legislation. While the “devil is in the details”, we cannot forget that our own Senator, Krysten Sinema, and Joe Manchin are the two people that previously held the line against Build Back Better, only to cave on a slightly less expensive version. But, they were hardly alone as it took complete Democrat Party loyalty to pull this off. But closer to home, when you think of a hoard of bureaucrats driving up the price of gasoline and auditing your returns, remember BOTH Senators from Arizona voted for this monstrosity. They are betting we will forget. We won’t. We have a chance to vote out Kelly this fall. Let’s get on with it. Donate time, money, and effort. If it is not worth the effort now, then when?

 

In a major reversal, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D–WV) struck a deal with Senator Chuck Schumer (D–NY) to enact a major climate, entitlement, and tax bill. This legislation has been praised by President Biden, Al Gore, and other proponents of highly progressive policies.

Dubbed the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” Senate Democrats voted to pass this bill only 11 days after releasing its 725 pages of text. Democrats are pushing this bill so rapidly through Congress that the Congressional Budget Office estimates it won’t be able to “provide a complete cost estimate for the legislation” until more than a week after Congress is expected to pass it.

Manchin’s press release claims the law will:

  • “address record inflation by paying down our national debt, lowering energy costs and lowering healthcare costs.”
  • “displace dirtier products” and ensure “American energy is affordable, reliable, clean and secure.”
  • bring “good paying energy and manufacturing jobs back to America.”
  • “make America more energy secure” and “financially sound.”
  • not raise taxes on “families and small businesses making less than $400,000 a year.”
  • “lower the cost of healthcare for working families and small businesses.”
  • support “the everyday hardworking Americans we have been elected to serve.”
  • adopt “a tax policy that protects small businesses and working-class Americans….”

In reality, the legislation will do almost none of what Manchin claims it will—and often the exact opposite. If it becomes law, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will:

  • have no material impact on inflation.
  • increase pollution by subsidizing electric vehicles, which emit more toxic pollutants over their lifespans than normal cars.
  • enrich “green” energy investors while doing little-to-nothing to help workers.
  • raise energy costs and make America poorer by subsidizing products that are much more expensive.
  • harm the manufacturing sector.
  • enact hidden taxes that fall on Americans of all income groups.
  • reduce incentives to work by giving people more welfare.
  • increase the costs of prescription drugs for working Americans by pushing more of the research and development costs onto them.
  • target wealthy people with IRS audits while letting the vast bulk of tax dodgers continue cheating the honest taxpayers of America.

For more details and thorough documentation of these facts, continue reading.

The very name of the “Inflation Reduction Act” and nearly everything Joe Manchin has said about it is a farce that betrays his promise to support “the everyday hardworking Americans we have been elected to serve.” Contrary to Manchin’s claims that his bill will:

  • reduce inflation, there is no credible evidence it would do so.
  • “displace dirtier products,” it heavily subsidizes electric vehicles, which emit more pollution over their lifespans than normal cars.
  • will bring “good paying energy and manufacturing jobs back to America,” it will enrich green energy investors while neglecting workers and harming the manufacturing sector.
  • lower energy costs, it enacts a form of stealth spending to subsidize energy products that are far more costly than other options.
  • not raise taxes on “families and small businesses making less than $400,000 a year,” it does exactly that by enacting hidden taxes that fall on Americans of all income groups.
  • “lower the cost of health insurance,” it will make taxpayers pick up the tab by forcing them to pay Obamacare subsidies for people with incomes above 400% of the poverty line.
  • “lower the cost” of prescription drugs, it will simply shift more of those costs onto working Americans.
  • ensure people “making less than $400,000 and small businesses will not be targeted” by the IRS “because they are already paying their taxes,” the bill will let the vast bulk of tax dodgers continue cheating the honest taxpayers of America.

*****

This article was published by Just Facts and is reproduced with permission.

 

Where Did $800 Billion Go?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Our various governments allocate money. Then the money goes into a black hole. Readers of this column know I tried to find out where Los Angeles City spent $1 billion on homelessness in a recent year and hit a brick wall. As you know our federal government has allocated amounts in the trillions and we never find out where the money goes. Remember President Obama’s “shovel-ready jobs?” Where did that money go?

There is now a study on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), so I decided to dig into it.

The study is available here.

The study was performed by a team at the National Bureau of [Economic] Research (NBER) headquartered in Cambridge Mass. The study was headed by David Autor who is MIT’S Ford Professor of Economics. Professor Autor was initially responsive especially after I sent him a misrepresentation of the program from a Left-wing author. Unlike the errant Leftist, I have intimate knowledge of the program as I helped some clients make applications and answered hundreds of their questions.

I found fault with the study from the beginning since it did not adequately explain the genesis of the program. The study did identify that it was a completely new program that was envisioned to work through our banking system (banks did the loan package review) with final approval of the loans by the SBA. The study properly cites there were initially some unanswered questions. Considering that the program was new, the amount of unanswered initial questions were minor. The biggest one was whether there would be federal loan relief with proof of proper fund usage. It was determined that the loans would be relieved.

Overview of the program: In 2020, the federal government decided they would do a shutdown of businesses with the idea that it would stem the pandemic. The idea of the program was to provide funds for small businesses to stay alive and keep their workforces intact so that when the pandemic subsided the businesses would be able to gear up quickly and not cause major economic upheaval. The employees would be kept in place and off unemployment. Of course, COVID was not as short-term as initially believed, but the U.S. was only in an economic downturn for two months and PPP helped steady business owners through an uncertain time.

The study stated, “The program deserves high marks for timeliness.” Other systems were in place to deliver money to people, “but these systems struggled to handle the flood of initial unemployment insurance claims.” “Despite obstacles, PPP succeeded in delivering a staggering sum of money over a two-month period in the spring of 2020.”

The study produced some bizarre (unexplained) statistics. It stated that the per job preserved cost was between $170,000 and $257,000 each. Since the program was aimed toward eight weeks of payroll and the most it could cover of any employee’s salary was based on an annual amount of $100,000 — or $15,384+ related payroll taxes — the authors’ calculation of cost per job saved made no sense.

The authors stated the program had a 94% participation rate. With an estimated 31.7 million small businesses as per the Small Business Administration (SBA), that made no sense either because 30 million businesses did not participate. The authors also stated 66% to 77% of the PPP funding did not go to wages. It is a mystery how they came to that conclusion since to get loan relief you had to prove that you spent 60% of money on wages.

Why certain small businesses got funded while others did not is something the authors correctly questioned. These are small businesses that generally do not carry significant in-house accounting staffs geared to applying for such programs. The companies that had relationships with outside consultants (like CPAs) that could perform the calculations quickly were able to get their loan packages in promptly and get approval in the first group of loans. Other owners who were not as astute were left without funding in the initial group of loans. By the time they woke up, they were able to get funding in the second group of loans in 2020.

Also, the fact some businesses had strong banking relationships helped to grease the wheels during the loan process. Others who did not know their banker faced greater challenges. Listen up: know your banker.

The authors criticized the program because banks largely processed loans from their existing clientele (thus shutting out others) due to the volume of loans requested. This turned out to be a godsend for protecting the integrity of the program. Since the banks were largely dealing with existing clientele, it cut significantly into the fraudulent outlays experienced in other programs due to funding “faceless” people (i.e., unknown) during this period of upheaval.

The authors did draw a conclusion with which I wholeheartedly concur. There was a third release of PPP loans in 2021 which was based on requirements of reduced levels of revenues in 2020 for the applying businesses. This aspect of funding was largely unnecessary since the economy had already bounced back and the stimulus was overkill.

The authors came to two conclusions showing their true colors which were either left-of-center universities or the federal reserve (quasi-governmental employees). The first conclusion was that “building U.S. administrative capacity prior to the next pandemic” would be an enhancement to the program. No, it would not. It would just add layers of government employees that have no sense of urgency to administer a program. These employees would be there waiting for another pandemic while we paid them for doing nothing. It is a nonsensical recommendation. The program as designed turned out to be genius. Experienced professionals working through the existing banking system reviewed loan packages of largely pre-existing relationships cutting down time and assuring the integrity of the applications. No, we do not need more government employees.

The authors also concluded that the unemployment system payments went more directly to households, so they believed that the program was more successful in distributing money to lower-income individuals. That may be correct in small regard because it was getting money to people that were now unemployed because their employers had been crushed by the government-mandated operational shutdowns. The authors did not mention the overwhelming amount of fraud in this program, estimated at a $20 billion minimum in California alone. The GAO estimated the 2021 fraud in the program nationally was $78 billion. Yet the authors suggested the unemployment system was more effective than PPP.

The other aspect the authors left out was that the people trying to receive the benefits faced an unemployment benefit bureaucracy that during good times is largely unresponsive. During the pandemic, it was simply overwhelmed with increased applications while the government employees worked out of their homes with inadequate computers and communication systems.

The overarching conclusion in reviewing the study is to not rely on studies like these. The authors had no firsthand experience with the program. In fact, they probably have never had firsthand experience with any program. They create complicated formulas with biased outcomes toward governmental-run programs because that is what they understand.

PPP — except for the unnecessary funds laid out in the second year of the program — was remarkably successful in keeping small businesses in place and the economy running. It was successful because it was designed by people who had real-world experience as opposed to lifelong government wonks or think tank eggheads. Did it have flaws? Yes. Considering it was developed on the fly in the middle of a unique crisis it worked out pretty darn well with a minimum of fraud.

*****

This article was published by FlashReport and is reproduced with permission from the author.

Teachers Union Promotes Pronouns Cards for Students: ‘Hello, My Pronouns Are… ’

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

A “Student Identification Card” sounds relatively innocuous, like something that could come in handy for a field trip, emergency drill, or cafeteria hour. Such a card seems unlikely to serve a purpose in promoting LGBT indoctrination and deceiving parents. And yet, that’s exactly what it is now being used for.

This particular student ID card is available from sharemylesson.com, a “community-based site” that is “created and maintained by the American Federation of Teachers”. The resource appears to be developed by the site’s “Identity Affirming Classroom Team” and is classified as “social-emotional learning.” According to Share My Lesson, this card is a resource recommended for all grade levels.

The card provides students a space to write their “Government Name” and then a space for the “Name you would like to be called in class.” Below that is a space for any pronunciation tips. If the card stopped there, it might not be so bad.

“Government Name” is a bit of an odd choice, compared to “full name” or “given name,” but it still describes what should be written in the blank. The next blank could help teachers remember widely used nicknames (such as Katie instead of Katherine or Jack instead of John), students who go by their middle names, or students who select English names instead of hard-to-pronounce foreign ones. Pronunciation tips could also help with names with unusual or ambiguous spellings, particularly foreign ones.

But that’s where the card gets weird. “Can I call you this name outside of class?” it asks, giving the student the option to indicate “Yes” or “No.” That’s a strangely irrelevant question to squeeze onto a small ID card.

If that’s the name the student goes by, then what does it matter where they are? Do students use special names in class that they don’t use elsewhere—around their family, for example? Is the name a student uses in class a secret from that student’s family? Who cares if Johnny’s family knows he prefers to go by “Jack”?

Of course, if Johnny preferred to go by “Suzie,” then the change of name would carry much greater significance. A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but a person’s name communicates much more about his or her identity.

Not least of the important characteristics communicated by a name (in most instances—apologies to the Jordans, Taylors, and Rileys of the world) is the person’s sex, which, for all of human history, has bifurcated mankind into two distinct but complementary groups.

That distinction between the sexes is clear in pronouns, too. Yet the card goes on to provide space for the student’s pronouns (a simple circle around M or F should have sufficed), and it cites as just “some examples: he/him, they/them, she/her.”

The pronoun section of the card occupies as much space as the name section and includes even more qualifications on their use. In fact, due to its prominence, this ID card may as well be called a “pronoun card.” The student can indicate “Yes” or “No” to these questions:

  • May I use these pronouns in front of the class?
  • May I use these pronouns when I contact home?
  • May I use these pronouns in front of other teachers?
  • Would you like to follow up with me about your name or pronouns?

For students who identify by standard pronouns or as standard genders, these questions are beyond unnecessary—they’re ridiculous. These options, then, are only included on the card to accommodate the students embracing gender identities other than their biological sex.

Their inclusion is designed to encourage these students by allowing them to experiment in private, with a teacher as their sole counselor. They don’t have to “out” themselves to their class, to other teachers, or even to their parents if they don’t want to. The natural timidity they feel—which is their conscience warning them against defying nature—is simply sidestepped.

These questions offer students one of the temptation’s classic lies: You can get all the benefits of sin’s pleasure and avoid all of sin’s consequences. But sin should come with the warning label: “I am Folly; I will always betray you and enslave you” (Proverbs 9:13-18).

Unfortunately, most school-age children haven’t lived long enough to see through the lie; that’s why God gave them parents to guide them. And that’s why their tempters and temptresses work so hard to exclude parental advice from their deceitful schemes.

The pronoun card contains one more section, pinched into the bottom 10th of the card’s face, almost as an afterthought. “Tell me three other things about yourself. This could be interesting facts, hobbies, things you want me to know about…” A child must be very succinct indeed to fit three statements into the tiny space provided.

The layout makes it clear: The pronouns a child chooses, and who may know about them, are far more important for a teacher to know than whether a child likes to draw, or wants a pony, or plays soccer, or has an allergy, or is a good juggler. Even if the ideal of teacher-student interaction were to maximize student affirmation (which it shouldn’t be), such information would be far more relevant for a teacher to know than a child’s gender identity.

If it were possible to make the pronoun card’s sinister purposes any clearer, the back of the card does just that. “So why are some educators having trouble with acknowledging students’ pronouns?” it asks. “Part of the answer is that we are often missing key information and qualitative data about what a pronoun is, why it’s important, and the impact of not acknowledging it.”

Part of the answer, which they apparently overlook, is that the made-up rules about when and where to use a student’s made-up pronouns and made-up name, and when to pretend like everything is normal, are way too difficult for anyone to remember.

The card further states that, “for queer, nonconforming, nonbinary, and transgender people, these pronouns [he/she] may not fit, can create discomfort, and can cause stress and anxiety.”

So, what happens when a student’s self-perceived gender identity changes—as happens often? What if, suddenly, the student determines that the pronouns marked on his or her pronoun card now cause discomfort, stress, and anxiety? Perhaps they could get a new card, or only fill out the card in pencil. But what use is an ID card filled out in pencil? Even more perplexing, should the teacher check every student’s card daily to make sure nothing has changed? It’s not hard to see this scheme resulting in bad outcomes.

So, why did someone from the American Federation of Teachers see fit to promote and create this card in the first place? The answer lies right in the center of the card. In between a student’s “government name” and one line of “tell me … about yourself” (paper-thin disguises both) is an elaborate system for students and teachers to secretly communicate about their gender identity, right under their parents’ nose.

The assumption is that students should suspect their parents, hide secrets from them, and do so in secret code. This isolates students from those who love them most, and compels them to emotionally rely upon, and open up about their sexual identity to, one adult only, an adult to whom they are not related.

Oh, I guess that code is not at all secret, but neither is theirs.

*****

This article was published by Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

Whole Foods CEO Worries ‘Socialists Are Taking Over’

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Outgoing Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said he’s worried about socialists “taking over” American life in an interview with Reason published Wednesday.

Mackey, who is slated to step down from the company he co-founded within six weeks, told Reason that socialists are capturing the country.

“My concern is that I feel like socialists are taking over,” Mackey said. “They’re marching through the institutions. They’re … taking over education. It looks like they’ve taken over a lot of the corporations. It looks like they’ve taken over the military. And it’s just continuing. You know, I’m a capitalist at heart, and I believe in liberty and capitalism. Those are my twin values.”

Mackey then voiced concerns that a “lot of liberties” are at risk.

“And I feel like, you know, with the way freedom of speech is today, the movement on gun control, a lot of liberties that I’ve taken for granted most of my life, I think, are under threat.”

Mackey told Reason he is stepping down from his role in part because he felt his freedom of speech was being stifled.

“A lot of people were making as much money, if not more money, not working at all. And so guess what? They chose not to come back to work. They got used to it,” Mackey said. “The younger generation … don’t seem to want to work.” (RELATED: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey Says ‘Best Solution’ For Health Care Problems Is To ‘Change The Way People Eat’)

“They only wanna work if it’s really purposeful, and they feel aligned to [it],” Mackey said. “You can’t hope to start with meaningful work. You’re gonna have to earn it over time. Some of the younger generations doesn’t seem to be willing to pay that price, and I don’t know why.

Mackey also called the COVID-19 lockdowns the “stupidest thing” the government has done in the 21st century.

So-called vaccinations didn’t really prevent COVID, which is what you expect vaccination to do, and there’s been lots of side effects,” Mackey said, noting his wife had long issues from her booster shot. “It was experimental and they didn’t deliver as promised.”

Mackey said he plans on opening wellness centers and cafes once he steps down from Whole Foods, while also talking “more about politics.”

*****

This article was published by The Daily Caller News Foundation and is reproduced with permission.

Gulliver’s Travels in Washington, D.C.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Someone should tell Washington’s elite that Gulliver’s Travels is a satire, not a handbook.

Yes, in Part III of Jonathan Swift’s tale, Laputa sounds a lot like Washington, D.C. It also sounds a lot like the Spanish word for “whore,” about which the late P. J. O’Rourke is surely laughing from Heaven.

The island of Laputa floats miles above Balnibarbi, allowing the King and his court to focus on their interests without seeing, much less hearing, the ordinary citizens beneath them. The latter is, in current parlance, the Deplorables.

For Laputa’s denizens, the people fall as far below them in intelligence as in altitude, particularly in understanding higher math. The court Ministers consider taking measurements or adding numbers beneath them. As a result, on Laputa “their Houses are ill built, the Walls bevil, without one right Angle in any Apartment; and this Defect ariseth from the Contempt they bear for practical Geometry.” The elite explanation, of course, is that their “Instructions” are “too refined for the Intellectuals of their Workmen.”

Likewise, the Biden Administration denied the reality of inflation for months, because they understood economics better than the rest of us. Their about-face, evident in the name of the Inflation Reduction Act, offers little comfort to those of us unable to bring home the bacon (now 18 percent more expensive than last year). The White House might be structurally sound, but its resident’s economic policies are as askew as any building on Laputa.

But in Swift’s satire, such practical matters are less alarming than astronomical concerns. Laputa’s elite are so worried about the demise of the planet that they hardly sleep: “When they meet an Acquaintance in the Morning, the first Question is about the Sun’s Health.” They even conduct conversations “with the same Temper that Boys discover, in delighting to hear terrible Stories of Sprites and Hobgoblins, which they greedily listen to, and dare not go to Bed for fear.”

One senses similar delicious anxiety in D.C., where the elite have devised an Inflation Reduction Act with $369 billion to combat climate change. Only those with their heads in the clouds could understand the relationship between those issues.

Meanwhile, citizens cope with the threats and destruction wrought by the elite. On Balnibarbi, citizens watch the movements of Laputa warily. If they “refuse to pay the usual tribute,” the King has “two Methods of reducing them to Obedience.” One is to position his island over their land in such a way as to deprive them of sun and rain. In some cases, they are even “pelted from above with great Stones, against which they have no Defence.”

Unfortunately, in the absence of great stones to throw at citizens, the IRS has for years been stockpiling guns and ammunition, and they seek to hire more IRS agents to improve their rate of collection (or assault).

The more drastic alternative for the King of Laputa is to drop the island on citizens’ heads, a solution avoided due to the risk of damaging the island itself. Fortunately, our leaders cannot crush citizens with a floating island, though their politicized approach to laws unravels the fabric of our country. Just ask the parents targeted by the FBI or the Supreme Court Justices threatened not simply by citizens but a leader of the United States Senate.

Even Swift’s gullible protagonist senses something is wrong. On Laputa, the courtiers neglect Gulliver because he is their inferior in math and music, so he descends to the land of Balnibarbi. What he finds is a land in disorder: people with wild eyes, fields badly cultivated, houses collapsing. What, he asks his host, has happened?

It is not only his question about ours. Why has the rate of homicides spiked, particularly in large cities? Why is there a literacy crisis? Why are we paying so much for basics like eggs and oranges?

Swift’s wise Lord Munodi explains that decades earlier: Some individuals visited Laputa and returned to Balnibarbi with “schemes for putting all Arts, Sciences, Languages, and Mechanicks upon a new Foot.” They erected an Academy of Projectors, who had been projecting away for decades. The result was “Houses in Ruins, and the People without Food or Cloaths.”

Rather than admit error, however, the Projectors doubled down on their schemes and shamed those who followed established systems. Such rational people were “Enemies to Art, ignorant, and ill Commonwealth-men, preferring their own Ease and Sloth before the general Improvement of their Country.”

Those who resisted faced Cancellation. Even Lord Munodi, “being then not very well at Court,” was pressured to agree to one scheme, which wrecked his mill.

Despite such failures, however, all cities in Balnibarbi have Academies of Projectors. Gulliver visits one, where he sees such useful experiments as a man trying to extract sunbeams from cucumbers, and another trying to reduce excrement to its original food. Such projectors are constantly in need of funding, just like many of our current scientists. It is why NASA awarded Princeton a grant to study how humans would react to aliens.

Likewise, the ill success of Balnibarbi warns us of the failure of many new schemes for teaching, among other things, math. Reducing standards or calling math “racist” will not help students or build a better society.

Nor will it work to force a new language on people. At the Academy of Lagado, one failed scheme was to replace words with things: One would simply cart around everything necessary for a conversation. Fortunately, women along with “the Vulgar and Illiterate” threatened to rebel “unless they might be allowed the Liberty to speak with their Tongues, after the Manner of their Forefathers: Such constant irreconcilable Enemies to Science are the common People.”

And such were the “common People” who rebelled this year against the threat to free speech presented by Biden’s Disinformation Board.

Perhaps, like the professors at the school of political projectors, we are also “out of [our] Senses” in suggesting that our leaders reward merit and work with the wise. Perhaps we are doomed to live under the shadow of a government that, like Laputa, hovers over us with extraordinary power.

Or perhaps, like the King on the Island of Laputa, our elite need a reminder of the danger of wielding such power. Unlike Swift’s protagonist, we are not gullible.

*****

This article was published by AIER, American Institute for Economic Research, and is reproduced with permission.