Mr. and Mrs. Cranky Pants occupy the White House

So, it turns out that the cool cat billed as “No Drama Obama” by his sycophants is actually quite the drama queen. While the White House publicly pretends to ignore conservative detractors of his administration, Chief Touchy-Touchy seems to be personally consumed by our critiques. Yes, mine included.

On Wednesday, the president had himself a mini-“Toddlers and Tiaras”-style meltdown with Arizona GOP Gov. Jan Brewer after landing in Phoenix for a post-State of the Union dog-and-pony show.

As Brewer told pool reporters on the scene, Obama took umbrage at Brewer’s recent memoir. She minced no words on the cover: “Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border.”

And she minced no words describing her impressions of Obama as they sparred over her state’s tough immigration enforcement law, which is now the subject of a Justice Department witch hunt. Brewer called Obama “patronizing” and “condescending.” I’d say she was excruciatingly polite.

According to Brewer, “He was a little disturbed about my book. … I said to him that I have all the respect in the world for the office of the president. The book is what the book is. I asked him if he read the book. He said he read [an] excerpt.”

In the shadow of Air Force One, Obama complained that Brewer hadn’t “treated him cordially” and then stalked off while she was responding midsentence. Photogs captured the fracas on film.

The civility police gasped at Brewer’s “disrespectful” finger-pointing. On cue, one progressive commentator insinuated the gesture was a “racist” jab tantamount to lynching.

The president was singing a more laid-back tune last summer. As debate on Capitol Hill over the debt ceiling and spending sizzled, Obama bragged to reporters:

“I’m not trying to poke at you guys. … I generally don’t watch what is said about me on cable. I generally don’t read what’s said about me even in the Hill [newspaper], so part of this job is having a thick skin and understanding that a lot of this stuff is not personal.”

Uh-huh. At least two other Republican governors — Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana – have recounted similar presidential snit fits on the tarmac. He sulked over a letter Jindal wrote to the administration about food stamps for Gulf oil spill victims; he bolted after a half-minute meeting with Perry at an Austin airport over border security issues.

You know those “petty grievances” of “Washington politics” that Obama has long condemned? Now it can be told: He knows whereof he squawks.

As New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor’s new book, “The Obamas,” reveals, the president and his inner circle spent even more time carping about conservative influence on public opinion.

“He wanted the media to be more of a referee; to put unfair Republican charges to rest,” Kantor discovered. “He could brush off the wildest, most baseless attacks themselves, he told [senior adviser and Chicago pal] Valerie Jarrett, along with [campaign finance bundler and treasurer] Marty Nesbitt and [bundler and finance mogul] John Rogers, at lunch in the little dining room next to the Oval Office.”

But what “galled him,” the book observed, “was when they gained mainstream credibility despite distortions of truth.”

Read more here.

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’Doomsday Preppers’

Are you ready for doomsday? The cast of National Geographic Channel’s new series “Doomsday Preppers” thinks they are.

Set to premiere Feb. 7, the show follows the lives of ordinary Americans who just happen to also be preparing for the end of the world:

Unique in their beliefs, motivations, and strategies, preppers will go to whatever lengths they can to make sure they are prepared for any of life’s uncertainties. And with our expert’s assessment, they will find out their chances of survival if their worst fears become a reality.

Sound familiar? GBTV’s “Independence U.S.A.” tracks the Belcastro family as they try to go “off the grid,” preparing for the worst as well.

Here’s a preview for “Doomsday Preppers”:

Here’s a 12-minute clip from the show that first aired in August.

Read more here.

Occupy “babies” barred from camping in DC squares

The National Park Service will bar Occupy DC protesters from camping in the two parks where have been living since October, in a blow to one of the highest-profile chapters of the movement denouncing economic inequality.

The Occupy DC protesters must stop camping in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, both a few blocks from the White House, starting at about noon on Monday, the Park Service said on Friday.

The Park Service will start to enforce regulations that “prohibit camping and the use of temporary structures for camping in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza,” the agency said in a flyer distributed at the sites.

“Although 24/7 demonstration vigils and the use of symbolic temporary structures, including empty tents used as symbols of the demonstration, may be permitted in the park areas, camping and the use of temporary structures for camping is not.”

The protesters have been in the two sites since around the start of October. They have spearheaded numerous protests in Washington, including a demonstration that drew hundreds of people to the Capitol this month.

The McPherson Square site has drawn increasing criticism from Congress and the District of Columbia administration.

Read more here.

No, taxes shouldn’t be a “fairness” issue

What are we, six years old? Taxes should pay for the costs of government. That’s what we have taxes for.

The proper purpose of taxes is not to establish a condition of “fairness.” It’s to pay for government: a legislature, executive, military, police, firefighting, courts, schools. But for 100 years now, the percentage-based income tax has been shifting public dialogue on taxes steadily away from their proper purpose, and toward increasingly juvenile arguments over “fairness,” as if the tax code is like Mom, telling Makayla to share the toys and be patient because Brendan is little.

If we let taxation be about “fairness,” rather than paying for the cost of government, the two big problems we have are defining “fairness,” and defining the role of government in promoting it. Those questions will never be settled to the satisfaction of all.

It might seem that the first question – “what is fair?” – is the more contentious one. We discuss it incessantly, after all. But the more fundamental question is actually what government should be doing about fairness. The freighted nature of our discussions about fairness is largely relieved if we assign a limited, utilitarian role to government. It doesn’t much matter what other people think is “fair,” in a lengthy list of situations, if they can’t harness the power of the armed state to enforce it on their fellow men.

Thus, I reject the whole idea that government needs to keep an eye on the citizens’ incomes, and worry about “fairness” as if the numbers are a meaningful indicator of it. For much of American history, no government at any level actually knew how much income individual citizens had. That was not a problem. It didn’t need correction. We could do away with virtually our entire tax code, if we did away with the modern idea that government needs to know what our incomes are.

We would also do away with the various ugly arguments that pit citizen against citizen in a do-loop of unrequitable resentments. No, childless people shouldn’t have to pay proportionally more in taxes than people with children do. No, married people with two incomes should not have to pay a “marriage penalty” in their tax bill. Neither demographic is battening on the other with its life choices. But however we feel about that issue, we could avoid the argument altogether, if the tax code didn’t creep around after us inquiring into our incomes and household arrangements.

Obviously, we should all obey the law as it exists today; the point here is that we once handled these issues in a way less susceptible to demagoguery, government interventionism, and social conflict – and we could do so again. The way to discuss the tax code is not in terms of “fairness,” as if the government should be charged with using taxation to establish conditions according to a “fairness” index, but in terms of what needs paying for and how we’re going to collect revenue for that purpose.

In our pre-16th Amendment days, the federal government collected taxes on imports, liquor, and cigarettes. It also collected, and continues to collect, fees for various kinds of concessions, such as mining, drilling for oil and gas, cutting timber, fishing, and so forth. State and local governments collected taxes primarily on real property. With the automation of market transactions, sales taxes have become a widespread method of collecting revenue for state and local governments.

Read more here.

Is Eric Holder Guilty of Manslaughter?

Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice dumped documents related to Operation Fast and Furious on congressional officials late Friday night. Central to this document dump is a series of emails showing Holder was informed of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder on the day it happened – December 15, 2010 – and that he was informed the weapons used to kill Terry were from Fast and Furious on the same day.

An email from one official, whose name has been redacted from the document, to now-former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke reads: “On December 14, 2010, a BORTAC agent working in the Nogales, AZ AOR was shot. The agent was conducting Border Patrol operations 18 miles north of the international boundary when he encountered [redacted word] unidentified subjects. Shots were exchanged resulting in the agent being shot. At this time, the agent is being transported to an area where he can be air lifted to an emergency medical center.”

That email was sent at 2:31 a.m. on the day Terry was shot. One hour later, a follow-up email read: “Our agent has passed away.”

Burke forwarded those two emails to Holder’s then-deputy chief of staff Monty Wilkinson later that morning, adding that the incident was “not good” because it happened “18 miles w/in” the border.

Wilkinson responded to Burke shortly thereafter and said the incident was “tragic.” “I’ve alerted the AG [Holder], the Acting DAG, Lisa, etc.”

Then, later that day, Burke followed up with Wilkinson after Burke discovered from officials whose names are redacted that the guns used to kill Terry were from Fast and Furious. “The guns found in the desert near the murder BP officer connect back to the investigation we were going to talk about – they were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store,” Burke wrote to Wilkinson.

“I’ll call tomorrow,” Wilkinson responded.

This is hardly the first time new evidence has come out that directly contradicts Holder’s congressional testimony. These new emails are written evidence that Holder was aware of Fast and Furious about five months before he testified in Congress that he had only learned of the gunwalking program a “few weeks” before a May 3, 2011, House Judiciary Committee appearance.

Holder has since walked back that “few weeks” comment, amending it to more of a “couple months.”

“I did say a ‘few weeks,’” Holder said during a November 8 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, responding to a question from its chairman Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. “I probably could’ve said ‘a couple of months.’ I didn’t think the term I said, ‘few weeks,’ was inaccurate based on what happened.”

There have also been a series of documents containing the intimate details of Fast and Furious that were sent to Holder all throughout 2010 from several of his senior aides. Holder claims he did not read his memos.

Holder will be appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform next Thursday, Feb. 2. Though Holder has already testified before Congress three times about matters relating to Fast and Furious — twice before the House Judiciary Committee and once before the Senate Judiciary Committee — this is the first time the House oversight committee will have an opportunity to question Holder himself.

“The Judiciary Committee has multiple issues with the Attorney General,” House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller last week. “We have one issue: the issue of breaking the law in order to enforce the law.”

Read more here.