Saturday, May 18th, 2013 | Uncategorized | No Comments
Did the Justice Department come down as hard on the Associated Press as it did because of some dangerous national security leak, as claimed by
Errand Boy Attorney General Eric Holder? Absolutely. What could possibly be more serious than stealing Barack Obama’s thunder?
For five days, reporters at the Associated Press had been sitting on a big scoop about a foiled al-Qaeda plot at the request of CIA officials. Then, in a hastily scheduled Monday morning meeting, the journalists were asked by agency officials to hold off on publishing the story for just one more day.
The CIA officials, who had initially cited national security concerns in an attempt to delay publication, no longer had those worries, according to individuals familiar with the exchange. Instead, the Obama administration was planning to announce the successful counterterrorism operation that Tuesday.
AP balked and proceeded to publish that Monday afternoon. Its May 2012 report is now at the center of a controversial and broad seizure of phone records of AP reporters’ home, office and cellphone lines. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the unauthorized disclosure about an intelligence operation to stop al-Qaeda from detonating explosives aboard a U.S. airliner was among the most serious leaks he could remember, and justified secretly obtaining records from a handful of reporters and editors over a span of two months.
AP’s story about the foiled plot was at odds with the calming message the White House had been conveying on the eve of the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. On April 30, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying that there was “no indication of any specific, credible threats or plots against the US tied to the one-year anniversary of Bin Laden’s death.”
Saturday, May 18th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments
Legendary MCJ commenter Dave P. reports:
Henry Owen Pawlak was born at 8:55 pm on 5/17/13. 9 lbs 3 oz. and 22 inches long. Mother and baby are fine. Daddy’s tired…
Saturday, May 18th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 12 Comments
When the Barack H. Obama Foundation sought tax-exempt status to raise money for good works in Kenya, the Internal Revenue Service provided quick help.
The IRS approved charitable status for the foundation, which was run by President Obama’s brother and named after his father, in about a month’s time. The IRS also agreed to give the group this important financial status retroactively, back to 2009, when it had begun its fundraising.
The 34 days the IRS’s Cincinnati office took to process the foundation’s application stands in contrast to the waits of several months — and sometimes longer than a year — that several conservative groups say they experienced with the same office. Obama has apologized, saying Americans have a right to be angry that the office improperly targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
Saturday, May 18th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments
The Internal Revenue Service now basically runs health care in this country:
The IRS office in El Monte, California, began harassing Christian Voices for Life of Fort Bend County, Texas in 2011. In a series of questions penned by Exempt Organization Specialist Tyrone Thomas from the California office, the IRS asked a series of unwarranted questions ordering Christian Voices for Life without any foundation, to explain its content, message, and prayers as if they were engaging in highly offensive or criminal behavior.
Have an incredible weekend.
Friday, May 17th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 46 Comments
The Underground Pewster thinks that this Katharine Jefferts Schori sermon is her worst ever. That may very well be true (although I have faith that the Presiding Bishop can always top herself). But I would go a step further. In any list of the worst Christian sermons of the last 2,000 years, this crapfest has got to be in the top ten:
We live with the continuing tension between holier impulses that encourage us to see the image of God in all human beings and the reality that some of us choose not to see that glimpse of the divine, and instead use other people as means to an end.
Kate, of course, refers to those of you who keep insisting that the Creator of the universe means what He says.
We’re seeing something similar right now in the changing attitudes and laws about same-sex relationships, as many people come to recognize that different is not the same thing as wrong.
It’s not the same thing as right either. But if it’s different than what God says is right, it’s wrong. On the other hand, if it’s exactly the same as what God says is wrong, it’s wrong. That grade-school logic lesson is on the house, Presiding Bishop.
For many people, it can be difficult to see God at work in the world around us, particularly if God is doing something unexpected.
Like letting Episcopalians think that they can determine what God’s laws should be if He would just listen to the wise counsel of Episcopalians.
It’s right here where Kate goes completely off the rails. How badly? Let’s just say that I’ve probably read and commented upon more Frank Griswold sermons than anyone and Frank has never written ANYTHING as idiotically awful as the following; compared to Katharine Jefferts Schori, Frank is Charles Spurgeon. Strap yourselves in, kids, because this is going to be one hell of a wild ride.
There are some remarkable examples of that kind of blindness in the readings we heard this morning, and slavery is wrapped up in a lot of it. Paul is annoyed at the slave girl who keeps pursuing him, telling the world that he and his companions are slaves of God.
Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days.
But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.
She is quite right. She’s telling the same truth Paul and others claim for themselves. But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness.
Kate? This poor girl’s “gift of spiritual awareness” was the result of demonic possession. So I suppose that Paul was “annoyed” for the same reason that Jesus shut the mouths of the demons whenever they started to proclaim to the world who He was. Having your identity in Christ proclaimed by agents of Satan is bad for business.
Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it. It gets him thrown in prison. That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!
No. It’s not possible. She did not just say that. No college-educated person should be able to say something that stupid and no Christian should be able to say that at all. Let me go back to the link and see whether Kate actually…oh sweet mother of God, the woman actually uttered those words.
Say it with me.
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT!!
You know what you just did, don’t you, Presiding Bishop? You just said that something Satanic was a gift from the God of Heaven. And not only a gift from God but something beautiful and holy that Paul was wrong to “destroy.”
Kate, this poor girl was DEMONICALLY POSSESSED, you particularly egregious dolt!! So if I were you, I’d Google the phrase “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” some time. And then I’d start being honest for a change and stop referring to myself as a Christian.
I’d also look into learning to read and accepting the idea that if you don’t like what words mean, you can’t just arbitrarily decide that they mean something more to your liking. Most people figure that out when they’re about seven but better late than never, Kate.
The amazing thing is that during that long night in jail he remembers that he might find God there – so he and his cellmates spend the night praying and singing hymns.
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
An earthquake opens the doors and sets them free, and now Paul and his friends most definitely discern the presence of God. The jailer doesn’t – he thinks his end is at hand. This time, Paul remembers who he is and that all his neighbors are reflections of God, and he reaches out to his frightened captor.
If by remembering “that all his neighbors are reflections are reflections of God,” you mean not wanting the poor man to kill himself before he’d heard the Good News, then yeah, you’ve pretty much nailed it. Otherwise, that’s just stupid.
This time Paul acts with compassion rather than annoyance, and as a result the company of Jesus’ friends expands to include a whole new household. It makes me wonder what would have happened to that slave girl if Paul had seen the spirit of God in her.
Since Paul freed her from a demon, I imagine she hung around Paul a lot and probably became a Christian. Which is something else you might want to look into.
On second thought, don’t bother with that last one. No one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him to the Lord Jesus and I doubt that the Father is going to be drawing you much of anywhere any time soon.
As I write this, most of the people who commented on Her Satanic Majesty’s “sermon” are as appalled by this abomination as I am. A few names even in Sardis and all that.
Thursday, May 16th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 41 Comments
As you read this, remember that Murder, Inc. receives federal funding:
The Thomas More Society is speaking out about blatant bias by the supposedly apolitical tax-collection agency. Cases handled by the Chicago-based public interest law firm support mounting accusations that demonstrate the agency’s abuse of pro-life organizations, in addition to those identified as ‘tea party’, ‘patriot’, or ‘government spending’ groups. Outrage spurred by recent revelations of IRS discrimination against these groups has also led the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus to announce a full investigation into the matter.
In one case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for tax exempt status for Coalition for Life of Iowa. In a phone call to Coalition for Life of Iowa leaders on June 6, 2009, the IRS agent “Ms. Richards” told the group to send a letter to the IRS with the entire board’s signatures stating that, under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood. Once the IRS received this letter, their application would be approved. After a series of letters following a request for more invasive information, Thomas More Society special counsel Sally Wagenmaker sent a letter to the IRS demanding the tax exempt status be issued immediately.
Mr. President? Nobody’s laying this one directly on your doorstep. But when you and your administration give the impression that anybody who opposes you is not only wrong but evil and must be destroyed, kindly spare us your fake “outrage” at your radical underlings when they do what they think you want them to do.
Thursday, May 16th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 41 Comments
Late yesterday afternoon, President Obama issued a statement on the IRS scandal which is reproduced here in full:
Good afternoon, everybody. I just finished speaking with Secretary Lew and senior officials at the Treasury Department to discuss the investigation into IRS personnel who improperly screened conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. And I look forward to taking some questions at tomorrow’s press conference, but today, I wanted to make sure to get out to all of you some information about what we’re doing about this, and where we go from here.
I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable. It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives. And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you’re from — the fact of the matter is, is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity. The government generally has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust. That’s especially true for the IRS.
So here’s what we’re going to do.
First, we’re going to hold the responsible parties accountable. Yesterday, I directed Secretary Lew to follow up on the IG audit to see how this happened and who is responsible, and to make sure that we understand all the facts. Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.
Second, we’re going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again. And I’ve directed Secretary Lew to ensure the IRS begins implementing the IG’s recommendations right away.
Third, we will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role. And our administration has to make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed. Congress, Democrats and Republicans, owe it to the American people to treat that authority with the responsibility it deserves and in a way that doesn’t smack of politics or partisan agendas. Because I think one thing that you’ve seen is, across the board, everybody believes what happened in — as reported in the IG report is an outrage. The good news is it’s fixable, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to fix it.
I’ll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again by holding the responsible parties accountable, by putting in place new checks and new safeguards, and going forward, by making sure that the law is applied as it should be — in a fair and impartial way. And we’re going to have to make sure that the laws are clear so that we can have confidence that they are enforced in a fair and impartial way, and that there’s not too much ambiguity surrounding these laws.
So that’s what I expect. That’s what the American people deserve. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Thank you very much.
First of all, ordering the interim IRS director to commit seppuku is not as impressive as it sounds insofar as the man was due to step down next month anyway. Secondly, exactly what does the President mean when he says that the “responsible parties” will be held accountable for their actions?
Will these people lose their jobs? If it is determined that laws were broken, will there be criminal prosecutions? Or will all of those low-level IRS who did this entirely on their own with no one else involved at all merely be metaphorically spanked and told to stand in the corner until the firestorm goes out?
How closely will the White House work with the Republicans? Is the President open to the idea of appointing an independent special prosecutor? If so, will Barack Obama allow the SP’s investigation to go wherever it has to go?
Makes me no never mind. But I think that quite a few Democrats are starting to understand that if this scandal extends into next year, they are going to be the ones to pay the electoral price for the President’s arrogance.
The town is turning on President Obama — and this is very bad news for this White House.
Republicans have waited five years for the moment to put the screws to Obama — and they have one-third of all congressional committees on the case now. Establishment Democrats, never big fans of this president to begin with, are starting to speak out. And reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration.
Obama’s aloof mien and holier-than-thou rhetoric have left him with little reservoir of good will, even among Democrats. And the press, after years of being accused of being soft on Obama while being berated by West Wing aides on matters big and small, now has every incentive to be as ruthless as can be.
This White House’s instinctive petulance, arrogance and defensiveness have all worked to isolate Obama at a time when he most needs a support system. “It feels like they don’t know what they’re here to do,” a former senior Obama administration official said. “When there’s no narrative, stuff like this consumes you.”
The dam of solid Democratic solidarity has collapsed, starting with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s weekend scolding of the White House over Benghazi, then gushing with the news the Justice Department had sucked up an absurdly broad swath of Associated Press phone records.
Democrats are privately befuddled by the White House’s flat-footed handling of this P.R. and legal mess, blaming a combination of bad timing, hubris and communications ineptitude. The most charitable defense offered up on background is that Obama staffers are scandal virgins, unaccustomed to dealing with a rabid press.
As I said before, I think, depending on how the investigation goes, that impeaching Barack Obama is a possibility while removal from office is still a longshot. Even if the Republicans retake the Senate, I don’t see them winning enough seats to give Barack Obama the distinction of being the first US president ever to be removed from office.
Although removal can’t and shouldn’t be ruled out. If I’m a Democratic senator, if this scandal drives my party into minority status in the Congress next year and if it is determined that the ultimately responsibility for turning the IRS into Barack Obama’s personal Gestapo lies with Barack Obama, then party loyalty is going to be a whole lot less important to me during the Senate trial than it might otherwise have been.
If Barack Obama doesn’t care about me, why should I care about him? After all, I’ve got the 2016 presidential elections to think about and my party’s chances will not be helped if Obama’s still hanging around. And even if removal doesn’t happen but the new Republican Congress begins dismantling ObamaCare, I’m not going to go out of my way to pull the presidential chestnuts out of the fire.
Push comes to shove, Barack Obama may end up pulling a Nixon and bailing out early. If this scenario plays out, he might as well since his presidency would effectively be over.
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 31 Comments
The Environmental Protection Agency joins the fun:
Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Conservative Enterprise Institute.
CEI reviewed Freedom of Information Act requests sent between January 2012 and this spring from several environmental groups friendly to the EPA’s mission, and several conservative groups, to see how equally the agency applies its fee waiver policy for media and watchdog groups. Government agencies are supposed to waive fees for groups disseminating information for public benefit.
UPDATE: When it rains, it pours.
Larry Connors, a veteran local news anchor at KMOV Channel 4 in St. Louis, says that the Internal Revenue Service has been targeting him since an April 2012 interview he conducted with President Obama — a fact that he dismissed as coincidence until the recent reports about the IRS targeting conservative groups.
“Shortly after I did my April 2012 interview with President Obama, my wife, friends and some viewers suggested that I might need to watch out for the IRS. I don’t accept ‘conspiracy theories’, but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me,” Connors wrote on his Facebook page late Monday night.
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 28 Comments
It’s starting to look as if the Obama scandal that may just have legs is the one involving the Internal Revenue Service:
Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea-party-affiliated groups, the documents show.
IRS employees in Cincinnati told conservatives seeking the status of “social welfare” groups that a task force in Washington was overseeing their applications, according to interviews with the activists.
In one instance, however, Ron Bell, an IRS employee, informed a lawyer representing a conservative group focused on voter fraud that the application was under review in Washington. On several other occasions, IRS officials in Washington and California sent conservative groups detailed questionnaires about their voter outreach and other activities, according to the documents.
Moreover, details of the IRS’s efforts to target conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency in May 2012, far earlier than has been disclosed, according to Republican congressional aides briefed by the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) on the details of their reviews.
Just some “low-level” IRS employees in Cincinnati. That Washington seems to have known about. Interesting. As far as some Massachusetts Democrats are concerned, Barack Obama is on his own if he knew about any of this.
Outraged Bay State Democrats are blasting President Obama for exhibiting a Nixonian abuse of power after the stunning news that the Department of Justice secretly obtained Associated Press phone records and the IRS targeted conservative groups — new scandals emerging against the backdrop of heightened Benghazi criticism.
“There’s no way in the world I’m going to defend that. Hell, I spent my youth vilifying the Nixon administration for doing the same thing. If they did that, there should be hell to pay,” U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Somerville) said about the IRS scandal. “Not only is it bad government and bad to society, it is horrendous politics. The worst thing you can do is give your opponent an easy hammer with which to hit you.”
“It doesn’t seem to be a couple rogue employees. This appeared to be a systemic issue,” said U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-South Boston), who wants to investigate the matter as a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee already has scheduled a hearing on the issue for this week, Lynch said, adding, “No American should find themselves the target of the IRS or any other federal organization because of their political beliefs.”
Both U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Malden) and the GOP’s Gabriel Gomez, rivals in the Senate special election, slammed the administration’s actions, as new reports emerged yesterday that the Department of Justice seized two months’ worth of phone records from Associated Press reporters and editors. Gomez called it “another troubling example of overzealous federal agencies restricting our First Amendment rights.”
Markey said in a statement: “The Justice Department has many questions it now must answer as to why this sweeping request for information was ever necessary. As we work to prevent terrorist attacks against our country, we must continue to respect our laws and uphold our constitutional rights, including freedom of the press.”
Of the two scandals roiling the Obama Administration (three if you count the Justice Department’s recent assault on the Associated Press although that one hasn’t gained any traction yet), I don’t think, based on what I know right now, that Benghazi will amount to much. It is true that four Americans died on the President’s watch.
It is also true that e-mails and documents connected with this incident have been dramatically altered. But exactly who altered them and why is unclear and will likely remain so. Unless some Democratic John Dean comes forward with a smoking gun, proving that some sort of crime was committed seems to be a next-to impossible task.
But everyone understands the concept of using the IRS, an institution most Americans hate and fear, to attack one’s enemies. That was, as stated before, one of the high crimes and misdemeanors listed in Richard Nixon’s articles of impeachment.
It’s entirely possible that President Obama knew absolutely nothing at all the IRS’s activities and that IRS employees, even those in Washington, were only doing what they thought the President wanted done. But if it turns out that Obama did know, he could very well add another historical distinction to his personal legacy, alongside being the first African-American US president.
Barack Obama might very well become the first US president ever impeached and removed from office.
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments
In a world of turmoil, confusion, hopelessness and despair, it is encouraging to know that there are some institutions which will never let you down. Welcome to the Episcopal Organization, where it is still 1959, where Rhodesia still exists, where South Africa is still ruled by whites only and where every single American Southerner is a Klansman:
On November 15, the Episcopal Church will host and produce a forum centering on a critical topic for our times: Fifty Years Later: The State of Racism in America. Originating from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi (Diocese of Mississippi), the 90-minute ecumenical forum will be live webcast beginning at 1 pm Central (2 pm Eastern, noon Mountain, 11 am Pacific, 10 am Alaska, 9 am Hawaii).
The forum will be moderated by well-known journalist and PBS commentator Ray Suarez. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will keynote the event. Two panel discussions will focus on main themes: Racism in America today – why does it persist? And Racism in America’s future – where is there hope for change?
“This offers Episcopalians and others an opportunity for continued truth-telling and reconciliation, as we seek a society of justice,” noted Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, a keynote speaker for the event. “We say we believe all human beings are made in the image of God. Do we give evidence of it?”
After the forums, be sure to stick around for the “Anti-NASCAR Seminar and Catfish Fry” hosted by Bishop C. Duncan Gray. And bring your appetites!
Monday, May 13th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 18 Comments
“I’ll take ‘American Government’ for $2,000.”
“The United States Constitution.”
“What is ‘a worthless scrap of paper,’ Alex?”
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.
The government would not say why it sought the records.
Pssst. Kid. Want to see private records from some Nazi wingnuts?
The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.
The IRS did not respond to requests Monday following up about that release, and whether it had determined how the applications were sent to ProPublica.
In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)
After receiving the unapproved applications, ProPublica tried to determine why they had been sent. In emails, IRS spokespeople said ProPublica shouldn’t have received them.
“It has come to our attention that you are in receipt of application materials of organizations that have not been recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt,” wrote one spokeswoman, Michelle Eldridge. She cited a law saying that publishing unauthorized returns or return information was a felony punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment of up to five years, or both.
In response, ProPublica’s then-general manager and now president, Richard Tofel, said, “ProPublica believes that the information we are publishing is not barred by the statute cited by the IRS, and it is clear to us that there is a strong First Amendment interest in its publication.”
Here’s where we are. The United States of America is in serious trouble when the kindest explanation for stories like these is that Barack Obama’s presidency is the most dangerously incompetent administration that this country has ever known.
Monday, May 13th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 25 Comments
Kermit Gosnell found guilty on three of four first-degree murder counts.
Monday, May 13th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 14 Comments
Introducing the single creepiest tweet that I have ever seen.
Sunday, May 12th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments
Ad Orientem may be on to something:
After four years of desperately looking for a scandal to pin on the Obama Administration, the GOP appears to have just been handed the real deal. No, I am not talking about Benghazi. As scandals go that one is fairly garden variety. Basically it was the keystone cops running crisis management and then they tried to cover up their incompetence. Lots of knavery but I don’t see anything criminal.
Not so today’s announcement by the IRS that they targeted conservative political groups in 2010 and 2012 for special scrutiny. That’s not just unethical, its illegal. And not just in the administrative sense. This could (big word there) be a major scandal involving the politically motivated use of one of the most powerful law enforcement agencies in the country against the opposition party.
AO’s suggestion has a lot going for it. Of the two, the IRS scandal has the potential to be the most politically lethal for both Obama and the Democrats. The Associated Press engaged in actual journalism and exposed IRS lies while the Washington Post commented:
A bedrock principle of U.S. democracy is that the coercive powers of government are never used for partisan purpose. The law is blind to political viewpoint, and so are its enforcers, most especially the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. Any violation of this principle threatens the trust and the voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends.
So it was appalling to learn Friday that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. It was almost as disturbing that President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have not personally apologized to the American people and promised a full investigation.
TIME’s Joe Klein, certainly no friend of Republicans or conservatives, observes, “Previous Presidents, including great ones like Roosevelt, have used the IRS against their enemies. But I don’t think Barack Obama ever wanted to be on the same page as Richard Nixon. In this specific case, he now is.”
ABC’s Terry Moran described this as “A truly Nixonian abuse of power by the Obama administration,” while even panelists on some show on Barack Obama Is The Bestest US President Ever Channel were horrified.
On the bright side, the IRS seems to be an equal-opportunity Gestapo.
While they are at it, the committee might want to ask the IRS whether their list of targets extended beyond political party discrimination. There is evidence the IRS also targeted pro-Israel groups whose positions were potentially inconsistent with the administration’s.
For example, in 2010, the passionately pro-Israel organization Z STREET filed a lawsuit against the IRS, claiming it had been told by an IRS agent that because the organization was “connected to Israel,” its application for tax-exempt status would receive additional scrutiny. This admission was made in response to a query about the lengthy reveiw of Z STREET’s tax exempt status application.
In addition, the IRS agent told a Z STREET representative that the applications of some of those Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”
Z STREET’s lawsuit claims the IRS activity constitutes viewpoint discrimination and a violation of its constitutionally protected right of free speech. The organization is seeking, among other things, complete disclosure to the public regarding the origin, development, approval, substance and application of the IRS policy to treat pro-Israel organizations differently than it does other organizations.
And at least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel. Those questions also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required that Jewish organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”
Is impeachment in play? It could very well be considering that, among his other crimes, Richard Nixon was charged with the following:
[The President] has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.
Obama needs to get ahead of this situation right now. If this keeps going into next year and the Republicans hang it on the Democrats, galvanizing the Tea Party and costing the Democrats the Senate, many Democratic congressmen may finally figure out that Obama only cares about himself and would throw them under his bus without a second thought. Consequently, whatever’s left of Obama’s own party may not make all that much of an effort to stop the GOP from, say, skinning and gutting ObamaCare.
If this thing metastasizes, an Obama impeachment is a possibility (although removal from office isn’t; that bar is set much higher and the Republicans are unlikely to have enough votes to pull that off even if they control the Senate after the 2014 elections). At the very least, Obama will accomplish nothing for the remainder of his term and will have to impotently watch what little he has accomplished be whittled away.
While I agree with Ad Orientem’s premise that this is the more serious of the two scandals (qualified only by the phrase “based on our current knowledge”), I don’t mean to suggest that Benghazi is unimportant. Far from it. Even with what little we now know, Benghazi ought to scare the crap out of every American.
Incompetency is a part of life. But which of the following scenarios is the most plausible? That an ocean of foreign policy incompetencies happened at exactly the same time and concerning exactly the same subject? Or that the Obama Administration, Hillary Clinton or both used the incompetency excuse to paper over the deaths of four Americans at the hands of terrorists to save their political asses?
Right now, I could go either way.
Friday, May 10th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 54 Comments
I don’t want to alarm anyone but the Emperor appears to be naked:
When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story.
ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.
White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.
“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”
Summaries of White House and State Department emails — some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard — show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points.
State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”
Join the American people, Vicky.
UPDATE: When even The New Yorker isn’t buying it…
It’s a cliché, of course, but it really is true: in Washington, every scandal has a crime and a coverup. The ongoing debate about the attack on the United States facility in Benghazi where four Americans were killed, and the Obama Administration’s response to it, is no exception. For a long time, it seemed like the idea of a coverup was just a Republican obsession. But now there is something to it.
On Friday, ABC News’s Jonathan Karl revealed the details of the editing process for the C.I.A.’s talking points about the attack, including the edits themselves and some of the reasons a State Department spokeswoman gave for requesting those edits. It’s striking to see the twelve different iterations that the talking points went through before they were released to Congress and to United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who used them in Sunday show appearances that became a central focus of Republicans’ criticism of the Administration’s public response to the attacks. Over the course of about twenty-four hours, the remarks evolved from something specific and fairly detailed into a bland, vague mush.
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