Signs of Our (Coming?) Banana Republic Status…..

This is something that’s been bothering me for some time.  We’ve lived in two different countries in South America, and traveled overland through every country but Dutch and French Guiana.  We’ve seen banana republics close up, and to see various characteristics showing up here in the LOTF and the HOTB is disturbing.  In just a few minutes on Instapundit, I’ve come up with the following list.


1. Mark Steyn writes about prosecutorial abuse in filing great lists of charges, most of which don’t pan out, but one or two of which a jury convicts on, as the “moderate” “compromise”.  The “compromise” between conviction and acquittal, he calls A Dagger at the Heart of Justice.  Most recently seen in the GZ trial, where happily it failed.

2.  Glenn Reynolds writes about the DOJ response to revelations that it snooped on reporters’ phone calls in order to uncover leakers of information it wanted to keep secret.  His difficulties with the new “guidelines” for dealing with “news media” are that A. they didn’t follow the old guidelines so why should we trust them to follow the new ones; and B. they seem to be construing “freedom of the press” as referring to a profession, rather than an activity…the better to shut off anyone whose employer can’t be intimidated.

3.  The Tax Prof Blog references a WSJ article (behind the pay wall) reporting on the DOJ and IRS seeking penalties of $3.5 million from an American citizen accused of tax avoidance in an offshore account that never contained more than $1.7 million. From the comments, here’s a link where you can learn more about the law that allows this.

4.  From the Washington Times:     “A government watchdog has found for the first time that confidential tax records of several political candidates and campaign donors were improperly scrutinized by government officials, but the Justice Department has declined to prosecute any of the cases.”

5. Back in January, a “reform” was passed, allowing government-generated radio and TV programs intended for overseas broadcast by the Voice of America, Radio Liberty, etc. to be released to domestic radio and TV stations for the edification of U.S. citizens.  Foreign Policy has the story, and I have mixed feelings about it.  First, where was the discussion of this?  Today was the first time I’d heard about it. Second, will there be any transparency about the source of this “programming” when it’s presented?  Third, why doesn’t the government get its OWN stations, so there’s no question about what one is listening to or watching?

6. The Department of Justice of the United States spent taxpayer dollars to help “the Dream Defenders — a bogus “student group” run by paid activists with links to ACORN and Occupy — target George Zimmerman and the Sanford police chief in April, 2012.

7. Finally, here’s Steven Greenhut, from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, making one of the same points as the Instapundit, but at greater length: A shield law is a good idea, but only if it recognizes that real journalism is an act, not a credential.