Maj. Nidal Hasan’s 2009 act of “workplace violence” — in which 13 died and 32 were wounded at Ft. Hood, Texas — hasn’t stopped the paychecks from hitting his bank account. Chances are, the terrorist has made more money than you have in those years.
The Department of Defense confirms to NBC 5 Investigates that accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan has now been paid more than $278,000 since the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting that left 13 dead 32 injured. The Army said under the Military Code of Justice, Hasan’s salary cannot be suspended unless he is proven guilty.
If Hasan had been a civilian defense department employee, NBC 5 Investigates has learned, the Army could have suspended his pay after just seven days.
Personnel rules for most civilian government workers allow for “indefinite suspensions” in cases “when the agency has reasonable cause to believe that the employee has committed a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed.”
Meanwhile, more than three years later soldiers wounded in the mass shooting are fighting to receive the same pay and medical benefits given to those wounded in combat.
They were wounded in combat in a terrorist attack on US soil, and deserve that pay and those benefits. Barack Obama’s Pentagon is denying them those things by classifying Hasan’s terrorism as “workplace violence” akin to someone going postal. People who go postal, though, tend not to have motivational speakers behind them, who later get droned on the president’s orders.
Hasan’s total salary breaks out to about $69,000 per year. The median US salary is about $42,979.61 according to the Social Security Administration.
It’s hard to improve on this paragraph by Jim Geraghty, from today’s Morning Jolt.
Obama didn’t know the IRS was targeting conservatives until he read it in the papers. He didn’t know about “Fast and Furious” until he read it in the papers, too. He has “complete confidence” in Holder, and didn’t know about the decision to collect the phone records of reporters. He didn’t know about the investigation into CIA director David Petraeus’s affair. He told Letterman during the election he didn’t know what the national debt was. He didn’t know about the AIG bonuses in the TARP legislation. He said he didn’t know how bad the economic crisis was when he took office.
That “empty chair” metaphor from the Republican convention was so out of line, huh?
He also didn’t know what the IRS, OSHA, ATF and FBI were doing to persecute Catherine Engelbrecht and still doesn’t know of anyone who should really and truly be fired, in an “actual real” way, for any of what’s going on anywhere in his own administration.
Funny thing, though. I seem to recall a time when news broke that Obama hadn’t met with his jobs council in a month of Sundays. When the papers finally reached the White House and the bystander had to explain the lack of meetings — at a time when the unemployment rate remained stubbornly high, as it is now — this was the reason the American people were given.
CARNEY: Blah blah blah wah wah word salad wah wah doublespeak blah blah The president has got a lot on his plate.
It is true, that every year around March the president is very busy checking and re-checking the vital signs of a minimum of 64 separate and distinct entities across this great land. He undertakes this painstaking work so that he can fill out his NCAA March Madness bracket. But other than that one time of year, just what is on this pretender’s plate?
Next Generation’s Allen West will be honored at a dinner hosted by the American Freedom Alliance on Tuesday night with their “Heroes of Conscience Award.”
AFA describes the award as:
[M]en and women who work daily to support the values and ideals which have formed the very cornerstone of our civilization. We are grateful for their courage and tenacity in elevating the study of the classics, promoting democracy and free enterprise and focusing on the elements that guarantee individual liberty. In defense of our freedoms, they have dared to venture beyond the comforts of family, career and personal commitments, taking great risks on a daily basis in order to preserve and elevate these precious gifts to humanity. They are truly worthy recipients of our annual Heroes of Conscience Awards.
Next Generation is an educational effort by PJ Media that examines “the issues of the day through the lens of the next generation.” West, a former congressman, is director of Next Generation Programming. He is leading the effort to develop new Internet TV shows and other media that can be viewed on NextGeneration.TV
ABC News visited the IRS Determinations office in Cincinnati, OH, the office that determines eligibility for 501(c)(3) and (4) groups. It has become a security state.
On Thursday morning, after news that Miller was sacked, two ABC News journalists walked into the Peck Federal Building in Cincinnati looking for answers. The newsmen were screened at the door by security. They emptied their pockets as instructed, removed their belts, then went through the metal detectors.We wanted to ask who about made the decisions in the unit and when the profiling started. And whether those decision makers been identified yet.
But the answers – like the people involved – remained elusive.
As we traveled the public hallways of the building – watched over by security cameras – an armed uniformed police officer with the Federal Protective Service followed us. We were looking for a particular office—of someone who would not want to be seen talking to reporters–but chose to bypass it because of our official babysitter.
Asked why we were being escorted in a public building, the officer identified himself as Insp. Mike Finkelstein and said he was only trying to make sure that the newsmen were not a “nuisance.” He brushed aside further questions. The cop said a supervisor would call to explain.
One of the reporters wanted to know if the act of following the journalists was an effort intended to scare off any federal employee who might have considered speaking to the press. That’s sure what it looked like; and, even if that wasn’t the goal, it was the effect.
The supervisor never called to explain. After repeated calls to Washington to obtain an explanation, the Department of Homeland Security eventually called back to tell the ABC reporters that the security guard following them around was proper.
So, the reporters’ calls of inquiry about a Department of the Treasury office were eventually referred over to the Department of Homeland Security. For what?
Is this America anymore, or have we truly been fundamentally transformed into something else?
h/t Dan Riehl
Prayers for the people of Oklahoma. A massive tornado followed the same path today that an EF-5 tornado followed on May 3, near Oklahoma City. Now, as then, the result is devastation.
KOTV reports a local elementary school took a direct hit, where children are reportedly trapped inside.
The NWS office in Norman described the tornado as large and violent.
The first images emerging from Moore show demolished homes, smashed cars, downed power lines and scattered debris.
An unidentified mother told KOTV she and her two children were taking cover in the bathtub when the tornado blew through their neighborhood.
“Our whole house is gone, everything but where we were is gone,” she said, through sobs.
Had she not been in the bathtub “it would have been completely different,” she said.
Interstate 35 in Moore is closed in both directions.
Reports are that two schools were destroyed. Students were reportedly in underground shelters as the tornado struck. The storm is far from over. A tornado-spawning wall cloud is reportedly moving east along I-40. The forecast calls for more violent weather later today and tomorrow.
The first lady spoke to a graduating high school class in Tennessee and said:
Overcoming adversity has been the hallmark of many great people, she said.
“Oprah was demoted from her first job as a news anchor, and now she doesn’t even need a last name,” she said of media giant Oprah Winfrey. “And then there’s this guy Barack Obama … he lost his first race for Congress, and now he gets to call himself my husband.”
The first lady joked: “I could take up a whole afternoon talking about his failures.”
Oh. Honey. That’s not even a good start.
Former Secretary of Defense Speaks Out on Benghazi: ‘There were forces that could’ve done something.’
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ripped President Obama today for “ducking, bobbing and weaving” rather than accurately describing the Islamist terrorist threat. Rumsfeld appeared on the Andrea Tantaros Show.
When the subject turned to Benghazi, Tantaros asked Rumsfeld who could possibly have given the “stand down” order that prevented US Special Forces from going to Benghazi to relieve the Americans under seige at the hands of terrorists in the 10-hour attack.
“When you have people that are being attacked, and everyone knew that there were al Qaeda-related organizations threatening Western facilities in Benghazi, the standard procedure is to try to protect your people,” Rumsfeld said, adding that “If you can’t protect them, you pull them out.”
“When they were under attack, at that point the tradition in our country and in the military is to step forward and do what you can to try to save the lives,” Rumsfeld continued. “There were forces that could’ve done something, from everything I can tell. In Tripoli there was a unit, in Sigonella, Italy I believe there was a unit. And someone in that chain of command said ‘Don’t do it,’ and I can’t imagine it. It is the most unprofessional, unmilitary thing. Unless there’s a good reason that I don’t know.”
Rumsfeld served as President George W. Bush’s defense chief from 2001 to 2006. During that time, Democrats smeared him with the Abu Ghraib scandal, charging that both he and Bush were directly responsible for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners because it occurred on their watch. They have not applied similar logic to Benghazi or any other scandal currently swirling around the Obama White House.
Tantaros asked Rumsfeld who he believes should be held most responsible for Benghazi.
“Certainly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has the principal responsibility for ensuring the security of the people who work for the Department of State,” he answered. “The idea that she could go before a congressional committee and say, ‘What at this point does it matter?’ and chastise the members of the committee for asking questions, I think was inexcusable and I must say I was not very impressed by the response by the members of Congress.”
Later in the interview, Rumsfeld said that the flight time from several US bases near Libya is “relatively short.”
Tantaros also asked Rumsfeld if comparing the current Obama scandals to Watergate is apt.
“I think the comparison is useful one in this sense,” Rumsfeld said. “Leaders lead by persuasion. And to persuasive in our country, you’ve gotta be trustworthy. To the extent that what you say turns out to be inaccurate, incrementally you lose the trust of the American people. The idea that the government would turn against the American people with with Internal Revenue Service, with all of the power that they have, and all of the legal authorities, and all of the people and all of the money…is something that’s so fundamentally against how we function as a democracy.”
Rumsfeld added that lost trust weakened Nixon’s presidency, and he sees the same thing happening in the IRS, media and Benghazi scandals.
Rumsfeld also took issue with the Obama administration’s decision not to establish a status of forces agreement with Iraq, calling that decision “inexcusable.”
Listen to the entire interview here.
The Andrea Tantaros Show is produced for Talk Radio Network by the Fox and Rice Experience.
The White House claimed today that it had no prior knowledge that a senior IRS official was going to admit and apologize for a juicy scandal with a planted question at a May 10 American Bar Association event.
Press secretary Jay Carney also claimed that President Obama had complete ignorance of the investigation as it was unfolding because senior staffers at the White House chose not to tell him.
“There were conversations. After White House counsel was notified, and told senior staff members, there were conversations between staff here and Treasury about when — you know, what was the timing going to be; what would the — would the findings likely be in anticipation of that. But there was no fore-knowledge of when this — when this happened,” Carney said.
“Kathy Ruemmler, the White House counsel, was made aware the week of April 22nd. I’ve now gotten the specific date of April 24th. It does turn out, and we looked at this, that there was a part of this notification process of a series of I.G. — pending I.G. matters that was conveyed to — communicated to someone on the staff of the White House counsel’s office, but that information did not reach Kathy Ruemmler until the following week.”
It was pointed out to Carney that in a briefing last week about he never mentioned that the chief of staff and others were notified.
“Well, I — I think I said that White House counsel knew. I think I said that I didn’t know until Friday, but I didn’t — you know, I’m getting this information to you now. The point is counsel knew on April 24, White House counsel did. And she informed some other senior staff. And with that — in that — in informing, she also made clear that it was her view and others shared this view that there was not a need in a situation like this, with an ongoing investigation or audit, that the president should be notified,” he said.
“There were discussions here. And as I said, there were conversations from his — White House chief of staff’s office with general counsel at Treasury and the chief of staff’s office at Treasury about the timing — anticipated timing of the release of the report and the potential findings. But, there was, again, the — the point was no — no intervention, no action, because it would be entirely inappropriate to do anything except ultimately wait for what the findings would be.”
James Rosen was not the only Fox reporter tracked by the Obama/Holder Department of Justice. Fox reporter William LaJeunesse and producer Mike Levine were reportedly also subjected to serious invasions of their privacy.
William LaJeunesse identified as other @foxnews reporter who was monitored.
— Brian Faughnan (@BrianFaughnan) May 20, 2013
Producer Mike Levine (sp?) 3rd Fox news person monitored.
— Brian Faughnan (@BrianFaughnan) May 20, 2013
In order to obtain the information that the DOJ sought, it had to accuse the media workers of engaging in criminal conspiracy. In the affidavit accusing Rosen, the FBI accuses him of using “flattery” and persuasion to obtain information from his source, and of using pseudonyms and a special communications method to meet and to pass on information.
Every reporter who has ever written an exclusive based on unnamed sources has done what Rosen is accused of doing. It is not criminal activity, it is reporting. In Rosen’s case, he was working on obtaining classified information. Again, though, many reporters who have worked on national security issues have tried to obtain classified information from sources. The government routinely classifies information that has no business being classified. The First Amendment protects reporters’ freedom to try to obtain whatever information they can in pursuit of stories. Accusing them of criminal activity is extremely rare.
Meanwhile, the DOJ that targeted the AP and Fox for leaking, also leaked documents to smear a Fast and Furious whistleblower.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General published a new report Monday that confirms former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke leaked a document intended to smear Operation Fast and Furious scandal whistleblower John Dodson.
The DOJ IG said it found “Burke’s conduct in disclosing the Dodson memorandum to be inappropriate for a Department employee and wholly unbefitting a U.S. Attorney.”
“We are referring to OPR our finding that Burke violated Department policy in disclosing the Dodson memorandum to a member of the media for a determination of whether Burke’s conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct for the state bars in which Burke is a member,” the IG wrote.
Under questioning, AG Eric Holder will probably claim that he knew nothing of any of this. He’s lying. After the AP story broke, he claimed that the leak in that story was one of the most serious he had ever seen. Will that be his excuse in this case, too?
More details emerge on how the nation’s Most Despised Law™ will work in practice:
When the national healthcare law takes full effect next year, millions of Americans risk disrupted health coverage because of common life events: getting married or divorced, having children or taking on a second job.
As their family incomes change, so too will their eligibility for public insurance programs. And if nothing is done, policymakers warn, many low-income patients will lose access to their doctors and medications during this massive game of health coverage pingpong.
It’s OK. Poor people keep teams of lawyers on retainer to work out theses little details.
The IRS is under siege, but have no fear for Nate Silver is here. While Silver does concede that Tea Party organizations were unduly targeted, he also tried to discredit the WSJ’s Peggy Noonan on May 17 to show that the individuals being singled out in this scandal isn’t a big deal. He also he also has the mathematical calculations prove it. In fact, Silver has a very blasé attitude since hundreds of thousands of Romney and Obama supporters were subjected to audits in 2012, but that doesn’t discredit anything. Conservative groups are at the core of this government malfeasance. Yet, here’s what’s telling about the post. Silver wrote:
to be clear, this calculation assumes that individuals’ risk of being audited is independent of their political views. In fact, there is no way to know exactly how many supporters of each candidate were chosen for an audit — nor could there be, since individual-level voting records and audit records are private.
The point is, however, that even with no political targeting at all, hundreds of thousands of conservative voters would have been chosen for audits in the I.R.S.’s normal course of business. Among these hundreds of thousands of voters, thousands would undoubtedly have gone beyond merely voting to become political activists.
So, Nate Silver just said that there were a lot of audits that we can’t verify were politically motivated, but it happens anyway – which means it’s ok. All of this proved was that Silver has too much time on his hands, and gave us an irrelevant tally of audited Romney and Obama voters. Now, let’s say they were targeted. The scandal is now much more serious and larger in scope. And the fact the people on both sides were hunted down means that the IRS – and Washington – are running amok. Concerning Silver’s calculations on individual audits from 2012, Joel Pollack at Breitbart wrote yesterday that:
the telling omission in Silver’s post is that he cannot prove that these conservatives–some of whom were subjected to several audits at once–weren’t audited for political reasons. The fact that some were statistically more likely to have been audited (once) for ordinary reasons does not mean that they were not audited for political reasons.
In fact, it is precisely the unlikely nature of some of these audits that has led to legitimate suspicion of the IRS’s motives.
Consider Noonan’s account of what happened to Romney donor Frank VanderSloot: “He found himself last June, for the first time in 30 years, the target of IRS auditors. His wife and his business were also soon audited.” Were his wife and business also statistically likely to have been chosen?
Granted, Silver did concede that the targeting of conservative organizations was “very clear.”
And evidence could yet emerge that there was targeting of politically active individual taxpayers. But the principle is important: a handful of anecdotal data points are not worth very much in a country of more than 300 million people.
Math cannot spin away a scandal any better than magic fairy dust. Just because one angle of a scandal looks shoddy doesn’t mean the whole fiasco is now disproved. That’s the problem with liberals. They fail to see that big government will execute ways to maximize their power in any way, shape or form. Conservative groups were targeted, and I’m glad Silver admits that point. But if organizations were targeted – what’s to stop the IRS from going after individuals? With an administration that seems aloof to all of these scandals, we shouldn’t be surprised if future developments show that the IRS did just that. I guess that’s the price you pay for a government that’s “too vast.”
Nevertheless, an investigation is underway. Let’s see what happens.
Catherine Engelbrecht founded King Street Patriots and True the Vote to monitor and stop voter fraud. She and her husband, Bryan, operate a small manufacturing business outside Houston, Texas that employs about 30 people.
After Catherine founded the two groups, she soon found herself publicly accused by Sen. Barbara Boxer and other prominent Democrats of “suppressing” Democratic voters, though her actual actions involved training citizens to monitor polls on election day. I’ve witnessed True the Vote’s training sessions myself. There is nothing suppressive about them at all.
The accusations, which even extended to publicly accusing Engelbrecht of engaging in a criminal conspiracy, were just the start.
Engelbrecht applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status for her groups in 2010. That’s when the trouble began.
- Her application was put through questioning similar to inquiries other groups have reported, including questions about her political aspirations, the groups’ Facebook posts, etc.
- She was subjected to four rounds of IRS questioning.
- Her family business was audited by the IRS, as were her family’s personal finances.
- Her business was subjected to Occupational Health and Safety Administration audits. OSHA found only minor problems, and subjected the Engelbrechts’ business to $25,000 in fines.
- Her business was subjected to an unannounced audit by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigations inquired about someone who had visited one of Engelbrecht’s meetings, and subsequently called up the Engelbrechts just to ask “how they were doing.”
All of this, over the course of about two years, and all of it came after Mrs. Engelbrecht became politically active. Engelbrecht gained national attention after Andrew Breitbart became aware of her groups and spoke at one of its meetings (I introduced Breitbart at that meeting). It’s no secret that the Obama administration viewed Breitbart as one of its chief enemies, along with Fox News and the Tea Party.
Considering the breadth and scope of the inquiries to which Engelbrecht has been subjected, she has had the entire executive branch of the United States government focused on her and targeting her.
Because she is a leading and effective public critic of Barack Obama. But perhaps just as important, because she works against voter fraud by promoting voter ID laws. The Obama administration has made no secret of its hatred for voter ID security laws.
Congress must hold hearings about Engelbrecht’s experience, subpoenaing every single government employee involved to get their testimony and evidence under oath. Who orchestrated these actions against her and her family?
Catherine Engelbrecht was subjected to harassment to the point of tyranny, and it must not stand.
The Cuomo administration has released a confidential e-mail from a reporter seeking information for a story.
The reporter, Fred Dicker of the New York Post, called it “highly unprofessional” and shocking.
The Cuomo administration gave Dicker’s e-mail to 10 competitors on Monday. It also released a spokesman’s response about a high-level executive leaving the administration, the subject of Dicker’s query.
Highly unprofessional? But I thought this kind of thing had become de rigueur.
One of the Obama administration’s multiple scandals continued to grow today as the Washington Post revealed the Department of Justice not only seized the AP’s phone records but tracked Fox News reporter James Rosen:
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.
They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.
The case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the Associated Press.
…Court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist — and raise the question of how often journalists have been investigated as closely as Rosen was in 2010. The case also raises new concerns among critics of government secrecy about the possible stifling effect of these investigations on a critical element of press freedom: the exchange of information between reporters and their sources.
The White House hadn’t scheduled a briefing with press secretary Jay Carney today, but late this morning the administration added a briefing at 1:30 p.m.
In the afternoon, President Obama welcomes Burmese President Thein Sein to the White House.
UPDATE: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) gives one of the first Hill statements on the latest revelation: “I am very concerned by reports the Obama Administration targeted a FOX News reporter for possible criminal prosecution for doing what appears to be normal news-gathering protected by the First Amendment. The sort of reporting by James Rosen detailed in the report is the same sort of reporting that helped Mr. Rosen aggressively pursue questions about the Administration’s handling of Benghazi. National security leaks are criminal and put American lives on the line, and federal prosecutors should, of course, vigorously investigate. But we expect that they do so within the bounds of the law, and that the investigations focus on the leakers within the government – not on media organizations that have First Amendment protections and serve vital function in our democracy. We must insist that federal agents not use legitimate investigations as an excuse to harass journalists they deem unfriendly to the President or the Administration. We shouldn’t even have to ask if our government would do such a thing, but unfortunately as the unfolding IRS scandal shows, this White House has created a culture where we do have to explicitly make these kinds of requests.”
Thanks to all who contributed to our latest Photo Caption Contest.
With all the scandals swirling around President Obama, expect even more tears in the next few weeks because Obama knows his legacy is threatened.
And what does our fearless leader do when his legacy is threatened?
“I sure want to do some governing,” is what President Obama told a star- studded crowd at a New York City fundraiser just hours after last Monday’s “tearful” press conference.
Now, as the contest judge, if someone had submitted that statement as a caption contest entry they would have been awarded the Grand Prize.
Therefore, I declare President Obama our honorary Caption Contest winner. (I am sure he will place our trophy next to his Nobel Peace Prize.)
Speaking of “noble” winners, let’s start with our list of Honorable Mentions.
Submitted by Bpseudomalleus:
I’m a better scandal than Nixon and a better crier than Boehner.
Submitted by Rbj:
*Sniff*, why am I finally being held accountable for the first time ever?
Submitted by WWHawkeye:
“Honestly, I have no idea how I got Krazy Glue on my cheek.”
RockThisTown (a Caption King) submitted these two:
“Where’s a Marine to block water off my face when I need one?”
“There’s no ‘there’ there, er, I mean, there’s no tear there.”
Cfbleachers our Caption King Emeritus submitted:
I’m going to miss Chris Matthews tingling leg soooo much.
And the Grand Prize goes to our reigning Caption King, Chris Henderson with:
White House plumbers have been called in to fix the leak in Obama’s tear duct.
Congratulations to King Henderson who continues his serious winning streak!
Just in case some of you are too young to understand the humor in this winning entry, here is the “White House Plumbers” definition from Wiki:
The White House Plumbers, sometimes simply called the Plumbers, were a covert White House Special Investigations Unit established July 24, 1971 during the presidency of Richard Nixon. Its task was to stop the leaking of classified information to the news media. Its members branched into illegal activities working for the Committee to Re-elect the President, including the Watergate break-in and the ensuing Watergate scandal.
But now its 2013.… “gate” scandals are so overplayed and the current White House has no need for plumbers. Instead, they just fix their own problems “in-house” because the law is irrelevant.
See you next time a photo is worthy of a Tatler Photo Caption Contest! (And if you don’t see another contest, it’s because I am busy fending off an IRS audit.)
Here’s a story that just keeps getting creepier:
KMOV anchorman Larry Conners has been “advised” by KMOV’s parent company Belo Corp. to not make statements, post on Facebook, or participate in interviews concerning a recent controversy over Facebook comments he made about the Internal Revenue Service.
Conners has hired St. Louis attorney Merle Silverstein. Silverstein issued a letter to media outlets claiming that the corporate order “is the only reason for his silence.”
Bullying — official, unofficial, or just plain illegal — of reporters is the norm for this administration. When will one of them shout, “ENOUGH!” and blow the lid off?
Just before this latest scandals avalanche, President Barack Obama urged a class of imminent college escapees – I mean graduates – to:
“Reject these voices” who “incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all of our problems…. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.”
Of what were these voices thinking? The Scandal-Palooza Week that followed the President’s condescending remarks. And the four-plus years preceding. And the century-plus before that.
The Administration’s corruption-fests have now reached “Myriad” status – and it only keeps getting worse. An underlying theme in just about all of them is the abuse of power – to abuse its political enemies. This is your government on “Stimulus” steroids – any questions?
So what we absolutely must not do going forward is give them more of our information – more fodder for them with which to work. President Obama and his Democrats beg to differ.
Like President Barack Obama’s illegal Network Neutrality order. Which gives the government access to the Internet’s spine – and with it every website there is and all the data contained therein….
Like President Barack Obama’s illegal Cyber Security Executive Order. The amount of data compiled in Cyber Security execution is massive – and Big Government wants at it….
Like the Obama Administration shutting down bailed out car company dealerships based upon campaign contribution data. Like local governments in New York turning over for publication gun registration data. Like then-President and First Lady Bill and Hillary Clinton’s illegally obtained 900 FBI files getting him out of an impeachment conviction….
This President is in fact endlessly creative in coming up with data abuses and illegal fiats.
President Obama is considering an executive order that would force government contractors to disclose their donations to groups that participate in political activities….
The Left, of course, tries to turn every one of these abuse-of-power scandals into…a validation of their demands for more power. The Left’s definition of government “reform” is always…more power for government.
Immigration “reform?” Let’s put millions more on the government welfare (and Democrat voting) rolls. Campaign finance “reform?” Let’s allow the government to demand even more of your information. So that it can then be used against you.
The voting booth is sacrosanct – the government can’t know whom you support with your ballot. Yet the government demands to know whom you support with your money. The Leviathan knowing the latter sort of gives away the former, does it not?
Corrupt Democrat ex-New Jersey Governor John Corzine was one of President Obama’s top campaign coin bundlers. Any doubt for whom he voted?
Big Government uses all of this data against you – if you stand for less government, or support those that do. The crooked Corzine – who made $1.6 billion disappear – wasn’t harangued into oblivion the way Mr. VanderSloot was – for the “crime” of supporting a Republican.
The Leviathan’s warped political use of our data against us is all-encompassing.
The Obama Administration’s defense on all of these scandals? We are completely incompetent.
So big is Big Government that President Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod – one of the principal architects of the current, ongoing, gi-normous federal expansion – said:
With that testimony, your Honor, the less-government-prosecution rests.
Sinister or simply stupid, malfeasance or merely mishandling – this is Big Government.
The only answer – the real reform – is to reduce the Leviathan’s size, scope and sphere of influence.
The less sway government holds, the less it can lord over us.
The Conservative Hispanic Society is expressing outrage that the Internal Revenue Service targeted them. In a press release going out today, the Conservative Hispanic Society says that though it applied for 501(c)(4) status in 2010, its application still has not been approved.
CHS Executive Director Chris Salcedo did not mince words in his reaction to the news: “It seems the Obama political machine has infiltrated every aspect of our government. Politics now dictates our response to terrorist attacks. And now the IRS is being used as a weapon to punish people our president has referred to as his ‘enemies’.”
The “enemies” mention refers to a statement that President Obama gave in October 2010, as the IRS abuse was in full swing. Mr. Salcedo, a veteran journalist, has frequently written for this site.
CHS President Steve Navarre focused on how deeply un-American the IRS abuse is. “Through the Constitution, our nation’s founding fathers tried to guard against elected leaders using the power of government to oppress the people,” Navarre says in the press release. “The type of government overreach displayed by the IRS brings to life our founder’s deepest fears.”
The Conservative Hispanic Society is far from alone. On March 16, Fox Latino reported that several conservative groups in Texas say that along with Tea Party groups and Jewish and Christian groups, the Internal Revenue Service targeted them too. Texas Rep. Bill Flores (R) believes he was targeted after working with the Waco Tea Party, which was also targeted. Flores, a certified public accountant, was among the first in Congress to question the IRS’ actions. The San Antonio and Dallas Tea Party groups both report being targeted by the IRS. Katrina Pierson, head of the Dallas Tea Party, traveled to Washington last week as the IRS abuse blew up into a full scandal. Voces Action, a Texas-based group that teaches Spanish-speaking and English-speaking communities about the Constitution, was targeted according to its founder and president, Adryana Boyne.
The breadth of IRS abuse across Texas is disturbing, given President Obama’s tense relationship with the Lone Star State and Democratic ambitions to turn it blue. Democrats have not won a statewide race in Texas in a generation, and Republicans control both houses of the state legislature with strong majorities. Republican Gov. Rick Perry has battled with the administration over everything from offshore drilling to coal power plants to border security for years. State Attorney General Greg Abbott was party to the state lawsuit against ObamaCare and has battled the administration on Second Amendment rights. President Obama’s response to a call for enhancing security on the border was to joke about putting alligators and moats in place of the Rio Grande. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney defeated Obama handily in Texas’ 2008 and 2012 presidential votes.
IRS abuse of Hispanic groups across Texas may introduce racial and demographic angles into the scandal. Democrats have long pined for Texas’ growing Hispanic population to help them flip the staunchly Republican state to Democratic control. Conservative and Republican Hispanic groups have sprung up in the last few years to bring more Hispanic voters, who in Texas tend to be socially conservative, into the GOP fold. The IRS abuse of these groups has undoubtedly curbed their ability to fund raise and spread their messages, at the same time that the president’s Battleground Texas group ramps up its operation, unfettered by any IRS interference, to turn Texas blue.
An email this morning from Organizing for Action to supporters:
This is just adorable in every way.
Myles, a 7-year-old from Milwaukee, wrote Vice President Biden a letter to suggest that if guns shot chocolate bullets, no one would get hurt.
The Vice President wrote back. Take a look at his response, then share it with your friends:
Dear Myles –
I am sorry it took me so very long to respond to your letter.
I really like your idea. If we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier. People love chocolate.
You are a good boy.
– Joe Biden
Guessing a chocolate bullet would still leave a good bruise – paintballs do, and they aren’t even solid like chocolate.
Even while howling about spending cuts, federal agencies have not acted on a directive last year from the Office of Management and Budget to close out zero-balance bank accounts.
The federal government spends $890,000 each year to maintain 13,000 empty bank accounts.
Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) wrote OMB director Sylvia Burwell last week to note that “in a time where federal employees are being furloughed and many federal programs are at risk of losing funding, we simply cannot tolerate this type of wasteful spending.”
The senators asked OMB “to exercise its authority and consider implementing methods that would compel federal agencies to work with urgency to close bank accounts that contain a zero balance.”
The pair asked President Obama’s budget arm to provide a plan of action on how they’ll “prevent the continued accrual of wasted fees.”
“I know that $890,000 may not seem like much to some folks here in Washington, but it is this kind of careless spending that angers American taxpayers—and rightly so,” said Begich.
Both Begich and Pryor are up for re-election next year and have been trying to burnish their deficit-cutting credentials. Both are being targeted by liberal groups for voting against recent gun-control efforts in the Senate.
The Libertarian Party has a quick fix to the problem of the Internal Revenue Service singling out certain political ideologies for extra scrutiny.
“We must abolish the IRS and end any need for a regulatory agency that snoops into people’s private lives,” said Libertarian Party Executive Director Carla Howell. “We must draw back total federal spending to the level of 1992, which is more than enough to fulfill the government’s constitutional duties to protect our life, liberty, and property. This will allow us to balance the budget immediately, end the federal income tax completely, and give back an average of more than $12,000 to every family in America.”
The party noted that FDR, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and now Barack Obama have all been caught using the IRS to target political enemies.
No investigation or probe will change this from happening again and threatening free speech, the Libertarians argued.
“We don’t need an income tax, and we certainly don’t need the IRS,” Howell said.
“The Libertarian Party is running candidates to dramatically downsize the federal government,” she continued. “We can cut federal spending by 50 percent, or even 90 percent, and Americans will be better for it. We can end the personal income tax, the corporate income tax, the death tax, and all federal payroll taxes. There will be no need for the IRS, nor any substitute agency.”
“Ending the income tax, abolishing the IRS, and cutting federal spending to the level of 1992 means no more deficit spending. This will stop inflation and stabilize prices. Even more importantly, it will transfer wealth out of the wasteful, dysfunctional and destructive government sector and into the productive private sector, resulting in a bounty of new jobs and prosperity for Americans.”
As Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer gets more and more offended that the IRS abuse scandal is dragging his bystander messiah boss down, agency employees are pushing the scandal back up the line. We don’t act without directives, they say.
“We’re not political,’’ said one determinations staffer in khakis as he left work late Tuesday afternoon. “We people on the local level are doing what we are supposed to do. . . . That’s why there are so many people here who are flustered. Everything comes from the top. We don’t have any authority to make those decisions without someone signing off on them. There has to be a directive.”
This rings true with anyone who has ever spent much time within or around a government bureaucracy. The fact is, the targeting regime created more work for agents, not less. Hardly anyone in a government bureaucracy ever comes up with ways to increase their work load. Someone decided to target the president’s critics for abuse. Someone wrote up the questions. Someone ordered the street-level agents to “be on the lookout” for these groups and subject them to extra scrutiny. Someone told street-level agents to drag these groups’ application processes out for months and years.
The IRS’ street-level agents are unionized. Ever try to load up more work on union members, especially when they’re already busy and you’re not offering them raises? You have to get their union to cooperate, or you will get nowhere. You don’t start at the bottom with the employees who will carry out the work. You have to start at the top, to get the directive put in place and get the work to roll downhill.
At the American Spectator, Jeffrey Lord may have found a smoking gun in the hand of a very high-level IRS union official.
According to the White House Visitors Log, provided here in searchable form by U.S. News and World Report, the president of the anti-Tea Party National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelley, visited the White House at 12:30pm that Wednesday noon time of March 31st.
The White House lists the IRS union leader’s visit this way:
Kelley, Colleen Potus 03/31/2010 12:30
In White House language, “POTUS” stands for “President of the United States.”
The very next day after her White House meeting with the President, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Report, IRS employees — the same employees who belong to the NTEU — set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America. The IG report wrote it up this way:
April 1-2, 2010: The new Acting Manager, Technical Unit, suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases. The Determinations Unit Program Manager Agreed.
Colleen Kelley heads the National Treasury Employees Union. The NTEU represents 150,000 agents in 31 different agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service. If she was not present and meeting with Obama on March 31 to launch the abuse regime that began the very next day, then why was she there? What communications between Kelley and Obama led up to that March 31, 2010 meeting?
This major revelation was not uncovered by the IG report, because the inspector general did not examine White House visitor logs or communications with the White House at all. Like the State Department’s Benghazi Accountability Review Board, its focus was too narrow by design to get at the real root of the scandal.
AP President Gary Pruitt points out that the Department of Justice process to obtain his reporters’ phone records was very unusual and has already had a chilling effect on newsgathering.
“Their rules require them to come to us first,” Pruitt said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” But instead of trying to work with the AP, the Justice Department claimed an exception that informing the news organization would have posed a substantial threat to their investigation. The Justice Department sought phone records for 21 AP phone lines that were used by approximately 100 journalists over the course of two months, he said.
“We can’t understand why,” Pruitt said, since the records came from an outside business and couldn’t have been tampered with.
Pruitt said that the message being sent is that if officials talk to the press they are going to be sought out and monitored by the government.
“It will hurt journalism,” Pruitt said. “We are already seeing some impact.”
It’s not so much that the government is trying to plug leaks, which is a legitimate activity when national security is at stake. But the way it has been done in the past is exactly the opposite of the way the Obama administration approached the problem. Instead of investigating reporters, they should be investigating their own people to see where the leak occurred. If reporters must be investigated, cooperation is usually sought from the media outlets whose employees are being investigated. Pruitt is understandably mystified at the way the Justice Department went about trying to plug the leak.
“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel,” said Mark Twain. For the Obama administration, who may rue the day they pulled this stunt, even in the digital age Mr. Twain’s advice is well considered.
They’re right. The New York Times says so:
Overseen by a revolving cast of midlevel managers, stalled by miscommunication with I.R.S. lawyers and executives in Washington and confused about the rules they were enforcing, the Cincinnati specialists flagged virtually every application with Tea Party in its name. But their review went beyond conservative groups: more than 400 organizations came under scrutiny, including at least two dozen liberal-leaning ones and some that were seemingly apolitical.
You read it here first — unless there are a lot of people who read the New York Times. Daily Kos mentioned an article at Bloomberg that also referenced the IRS auditing liberal groups:
The Internal Revenue Service, under pressure after admitting it targeted anti-tax Tea Party groups for scrutiny in recent years, also had its eye on at least three Democratic-leaning organizations seeking nonprofit status.
Outrageous. Something should be done about this immediately. We must give equal victim status to liberals in this scandal. Justice demands no less.
Except no one cares very much what letter was sent to liberals or conservatives, nor does it really matter that out of more than 400 groups targeted by the IRS, about 5% appear to have been liberal.
Liberals are missing the point; it isn’t numbers, it’s the criteria used to single out applications for special scrutiny.
There were no key words like “tea party,” “patriot,” or “9/12 Project” that the IRS used to target certain liberal applications. “Liberal,” progressive,” and any other left-sounding words weren’t used to scrutinize applications.
Nor have we heard any complaints from liberal groups about the IRS asking for reading lists, donors’ names, the content of prayers, or clips from all mentions in the press of a particular group.
For a newspaper that boasts “All the news that’s fit to print,” the New York Times editorial board certainly doesn’t spend much time reading its own publication.
In a curious editorial, the Times called on President Obama “to deliver on his pledges to limit this country’s greenhouse gas emissions” because the daily average level of CO2 passed 400 parts per million last week. This is a level that has not been seen for three million years, writes the Times, and the magic number of 400 PPM portends catastrophe for earth:
America cannot solve a global problem by itself. But as Mr. Obama rightly observed in his inaugural address, the United States, as both major polluter and world leader, has a deep obligation to help shield the international community from rising sea levels, floods, droughts and other devastating consequences of a warming planet. In his State of the Union speech, he promised to take executive action if Congress failed to pass climate legislation.
Which is just what he will have to do. The prospects for broad-based Congressional action putting a price on carbon emissions are nil. The House is run by people who care little for environmental issues generally, and Senate Republicans who once favored a pricing strategy, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have long since slunk away. Meanwhile, Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have spent the last two weeks trying to derail Mr. Obama’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency — a moderate named Gina McCarthy. Ms. McCarthy has served two Republican governors (Mitt Romney was one) but is considered suspect by the right wing because she wants to control carbon pollution, which is driving global temperatures upward.
Hence the need for executive action. Yet we are now four months into Mr. Obama’s second term, and there is no visible sign of a coherent strategy. One plausible reason is that Mr. Obama has been preoccupied with other issues and that his key players on climate have not been in place. But that excuse disappears if Ms. McCarthy can survive a threatened Senate filibuster; even if she does not, Mr. Obama has sufficient talent in the E.P.A. and the Energy Department and among his science advisers to get started.
That Times then tries to be helpful in an executive power grab by listing several measures the president could adopt without getting involved in the messy, boring, and difficult task of taking his proposals to the people through their elected representatives. They blame the right, of course — despite the left firmly in control of the White House and the Senate.
Beyond the Times’ authoritarian proclivities, there is the astonishing realization that the New York Times editorial board doesn’t bother to read the news. If they had picked up the rival Wall Street Journal of April 18 (if they bothered, they might have gotten some tips on how to stop losing their shirt), they would have seen the headline “Rise in U.S. Gas Production Fuels Unexpected Plunge in Emissions”:
U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions have fallen dramatically in recent years, in large part because the country is making more electricity with natural gas instead of coal.
Energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is widely believed to contribute to global warming, have fallen 12% between 2005 and 2012 and are at their lowest level since 1994, according to a recent estimate by the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Energy Department.
Obama is already doing his part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. His economic policies have led to a moribund economy and higher gas prices — two factors that are also responsible for lower emissions according to the Journal article.
The Times also missed the news that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — one of the government’s major climate change cheerleaders — discovered that global temperatures have been unchanged since 1995:
Global temperatures are essentially the same today as they were in 1995, when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were merely 360 ppm. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose 10 percent between 1995 and 2012, yet global temperatures did not rise at all. Global warming activists are having a difficult time explaining the ongoing disconnect between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures.
This isn’t the first time in recent years that global temperatures have disobeyed the models presented by global warming activists. From the mid-1940s through the mid-1970s, global temperatures endured a 30-year decline even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose nearly 10 percent. From 1900 through 1945, by contrast, global temperatures rose rapidly despite a lack of coal power plants, SUV’s, and substantial carbon dioxide emissions.
Bottom line: The correlation between temperature and CO2 levels in the atmosphere is not understood very well. So despite hitting the magic number of a daily average of 400 PPM of CO2 in the atmosphere, it’s stupid to make a big deal out of it when its significance is largely unknown.
What really annoys me about climate change stories is that they never, ever mention the incontrovertible fact that the earth’s climate changes naturally over the millenia, and that these changes have occurred with and without human beings on the planet. This may be a no brainer but you’d be surprised how many people who support draconian measures to limit CO2 emissions don’t know this simple truism. It’s the problem all media experiences when trying to take an enormously complex subject that even scientists don’t fully understand outside of their own discipline and reduce it to a palatable mush that can be digested by us lay people. Invariably and inevitably, confusion and misinformation reign.
The Times and other catastrophic climate change advocates want to reduce CO2 emissions when there is shaky evidence that doing so will keep the temperature from rising too much. And they wish to do it with little regard for economic growth or the overall health of our economy. The question they should be asking is how necessary are their “solutions” for dealing with a problem that may be solved by finding cheaper, cleaner alternatives to coal and oil without government help? Without any push from government, the energy industry is revolutionizing our economy by switching to natural gas — with the side benefit that CO2 emissions are way down.
Someone tell the Times about it before they write another editorial about lowering our already falling CO2 emissions.
Bystander Obama sets the tone. In the IRS scandal, he has claimed to be outraged that the most feared civilian agency in the United States has abused the president’s critics, but his body language and his actions do not show real outrage or even surprise. No one has really been fired; the fake-fired acting commissioner was already on his way out. The officer who was in charge of the office that abused patriots has been promoted and will now oversee the implementation of ObamaCare. Obama pledged to fix the problem, but has actually done nothing to fix anything at all.
That tone that Bystander Barack Obama has set has manifested itself in his senior aide, Dan Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer appeared on Face the Nation today, and downplayed the significance of the IRS scandal.
“What would be an actual real scandal in Washington would be if the president had been involved or had interfered in an IRS investigation,” Pfeiffer said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
An actual real scandal is the IRS abusing groups similar to those that had handed him a “shellacking” in the 2010 election. That’s what happened.
Pfeiffer’s dismissal of the systemic abuse was not a one-off. It’s the White House’s new message.
Pfeiffer said the White House is remaining focused and will not going to let Republicans “drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped up hearings and false allegations.”
The IRS abused Americans for years for their political and religious beliefs and that abuse impeded the president’s critics as he sought re-election. Bystander Obama doesn’t seem to think that it’s his problem.
I guess this is one way to defuse a scandal: pretend it’s just not that important.
Hillary Clinton wondered what difference it made whether we got to the truth of what happened in Benghazi. Now we have White House aide Dan Pfieffer saying it was “irrelevant” where the president was during the attack.
Weekly Standard has the transcript of a Fox News Sunday interview with Pfeiffer by Chris Wallace:
WALLACE: let’s turn to benghazi. he had a meeting with panetta in the afternoon, heard about this on an unrelated subject, wanted them to deploy forces as soon as possible. the next time he shows up, hillary clinton says she spoke to him at around 10:00 that night after the attack at the consulate, not the annex, but the attack at the consulate had ended. question, what did the president do the rest of that night to pursue benghazi?
PFEIFFER: the president was kept up to do throughout the entire night, from the moment it started till the end. this is a horrible tragedy, people that he sent abroad whose lives are in risk, people who work for him. i recognize that there’s a series of conspiracy theories the republicans are spinning about this since the night it happened, but there’s been an independent review of this, congress has held hearings, we provided 250,000 pages of — 250,000 pages of documents up there. there’s been 11 hearings, 20 staff briefings. everyone has found the same thing. this is a tragedy. the question is not what happened that night. the question is what are we going to do to move forward and ensure it doesn’t happen again? congress should act on what the president called for earlier this week, to pass legislation to actually allow us to implement the recommendations of the accountability review board. when we send diplomats off into far-flung places, there’s inherent risk. we need to mitigate that risk.
WALLACE: with all due respect, you didn’t answer my question. what did the president do that night?
PFEIFFER: kept up to date with the events as they were happening.
WALLACE: he didn’t talk to the secretary of state except for the one time when the first attack was over. he didn’t talk to the secretary of defense, he didn’t talk to chiefs. the chairman of the joint who was he talking to?
PFEIFFER: his national security staff, his national security council.
WALLACE: was he in the situation room?
PFEIFFER: he was kept up to date throughout the day.
WALLACE: do you know know whether he was in the situation room?
PFEIFFER: i don’t know what room he was in that night. that’s a largely irrelevant fact.
WALLACE: well –
PFEIFFER: the premise of your question, somehow there was something that could have been done differently, okay, that would have changed the outcome here. the accountability roof board has looked at this, people have looked at this. it’s a horrible tragedy, and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Wallace is about the only journalist who won’t accept the “doesn’t matter” mantra from the administration. One would think it matters a great deal if we have a president so disengaged that he didn’t talk to any of his main national security advisors when Americans were under attack and virtually disappeared, recusing himself from any decision making. That’s not an “irrelevant” point and Pfeiffer knows it. It’s just that he also knows the answer would make his boss look like an incompetent fool.
No doubt we will eventually be treated to similar responses to the IRS targeting scandal. It will become “irrelevant” when Obama found out about it and the question will be asked “what’s the difference if some tea party groups were targeted because they deserved to be anyway?”
The most transparently corrupt administration in history.
Despite the “Gang of Eight” in the House reaching a compromise agreement on an immigration reform bill this week, the legislation still faces a steep, uphill climb before it reaches President Obama’s desk for his signature.
The Senate seems reasonably certain to pass a version of immigration reform sometime this summer. The final tally may see upwards of 70 senators voting for the measure.
But it is equally certain that the senate bill will be DOA in the House, due largely to a “path to citizenship” in the legislation as well as inadequate border security measures.
Then there is the guest worker program. GOP House members see the senate version as far too generous to low-skilled workers and worry that despite promises to the contrary, millions of immigrants will become immediately eligible for Obamacare and other social welfare benefits.
The differences between the House and Senate approaches are vast and it is doubtful at this stage whether they can resolve the issues in conference.
If the House bill survives the entire chamber, the House and Senate will need to negotiate the considerable differences. The House bill, reflecting its Republican members, is already more conservative, and is likely to become even more so after making its way through that chamber.
For example, the Senate bill has a 13-year pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, with a faster track for DREAM Act-eligible immigrants. In the House, negotiators have agreed on a 15-year pathway to citizenship that would require immigrants to go through a process where they admit they violated immigration laws, and be put under probationary status. The House bill would also include a shorter pathway for DREAM Act immigrants – those who were brought into the United States without documents as children.
House negotiators have also agreed to include a trigger that would shut down the legalization process if E-Verify is not installed within five years.
The Senate bill alone is a delicate bipartisan compromise, and pulling that legislation too much to the right or left could risk unraveling the entire agreement. A more conservative House bill will run into resistance from liberal Democratic senators — several of whom have already proposed changes to the Senate bill that makes the pathway to citizenship more generous or add provisions to cover gay partners.
On top of that, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team need to keep an eye on the far right, because conservatives like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) are already denouncing any kind of reform.
“If there’s anything that looks like amnesty that’s brought before this Congress it would be exactly the wedge that splits the Republican Party in this House,” he said in an interview. “There are a whole lot of conservatives that haven’t spoken out. They’re increasing in their intensity in this thing. I can just feel it.”
And with all the attention on Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) bipartisan work with Schumer (D-N.Y.), you would think that bill could sail through the conservative House.
“I have been exceedingly deferential to my Senate colleagues because I think they deserve a lot of credit,” Diaz-Balart added. “But there’s no doubt that a House bill will have to be a lot different than the Senate bill.”
I think the lack of border security guarantees in the senate bill could, alone, kill the entire process. There’s no bridging that gap between the two versions because it’s a matter of philosophy, not legislation. The House GOP might cave on a generous guest worker program, and may even entertain some kind of path to citizenship that won’t be called that.
But truly, some House conservatives have exactly the right idea; incremental reforms.
Congress should make it illegal to put the word “comprehensive” in any piece of legislation. Simply put, we are incapable of making good law when so many unintended consequences flow from the kind of “comprehensive” reform we see in Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and even tax reform.
Some House Republicans want to address the problem of immigration piecemeal — that is, bring to the floor specific legislation dealing with a specific issue. A separate bill for border security, guest workers, DREAM act, and even a path to citizenship. Democrats hate this approach because it’s so much harder to pass everything they want. But that’s the way it should be in a republic. Altering society by changing the way we deal with immigrants should be very difficult to achieve in order to insure that unforeseen consequences relating to the legislation can be minimized.
That is prudent governance. And that’s the way our congress should work.
John Boehner is wondering who connected with the IRS caper might be going to jail.
The disappointing answer is … probably no one.
The targeting of political groups by the IRS is apparently not a crime, according to political lawyers from both parties.
“I am not aware of any statute that prohibits IRS targeting of applicants,” said Republican lawyer Jan Baran, who served as general counsel to George H.W. Bush and the RNC. Other politically inclined lawyers agree.
Essentially, there are three types of laws that might conceivably have been broken, as Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged in his testimony before a House committee Wednesday:
1) Civil rights laws that protect people from being discriminated against by the government
2) The Hatch Act, which prevents civil servants from engaging in partisan political activity
3) Perjury laws, which prevent people from lying to Congress
For the third law to have been broken, Republicans would have to prove that IRS officials knew of improper targeting of conservatives and testified to the opposite effect. They have noted that then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman testified in March 2012 that there was no such targeting going on.
But for that to be perjury, Shulman would have had to know that he was lying. Miller admitted Friday that Shulman was wrong but suggested he wasn’t aware of the targeting.
“It was incorrect, but whether it was untruthful or not … ” Miller said, tailing off. He later added: “To my knowledge, I don’t believe he knew at the time.”
As for the first two laws, it likely would have to be proved that the staff members involved in targeting the conservative groups were deliberately doing so for political purposes.
“You would want some direct evidence of intent, that people knew what they were doing was wrong and they decided to do it anyway,” Nathan Hochman, a former assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s tax division, told Bloomberg News.
An abuse of power is not criminal? Perhaps the Founders meant for impeachment to serve as a remedy for that kind of wrongdoing. But they also could never have envisioned such an expansive bureaucracy with such terrible power over American citizens.
If what the IRS did isn’t a crime, it should be made one. The power of the state to intimidate and to destroy is great enough as it is without loopholes allowing bureaucrats who violate the public trust to escape justice.
More than a dozen Tea Party groups will file suit against the IRS this week, Fox News reports.
The groups will be represented by the American Center for Law and Justice. ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow believes the number of plaintiffs will grow, although he doesn’t know if the groups will file individually or as part of a class action suit.
One of the plaintiffs will be Jay Devereaux who started his educational group Unite in Action following the Wall Street bailout. He’s been waiting two years for IRS approval of the group’s tax exempt status:
Litigation could take months or years and for some like Devereaux, time isn’t on their side.
While initially waiting for IRS approval, Devereaux dipped into his own bank account, maxed out credit cards and even borrowed money from friends so his group could put on a civic-engagement training session at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington. His goal was to eventually set up a steady stream of revenue for a tax-exempt nonprofit.
The next time Devereaux heard from the IRS, they had requested details and credentials on every single speaker and all the educational materials provided in the 78 classes held at the hotel. The IRS also wanted information on all 45 vendors, their credentials and a donor list.
Five rounds of IRS letters later, and United in Action’s tax-exempt status is still in limbo.
If they are denied, Devereaux’s group would owe the federal government “somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000 in back taxes,” he said, referring to money he would owe the government on donations.
“It’s more than we have in our bank account,” he said.
He’s not alone.
Waco Tea Party President Toby Walker said her group applied for a 501(c)(4) status in July 2010. She’d call the IRS from time to time to check on the progress but was basically told, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you,’ she said.
Then in February 2012, the IRS finally made contact.
Walker said she was asked questions that went well beyond the purview of the agency’s authority. They wanted to know everything about the Waco Tea Party group, their relationships with public officials, lists of volunteers and every single news story the group had ever been mentioned in.
Walker said the request was so lengthy and intrusive that had she complied with the demands, she “would have needed a U-haul truck of about 20 feet.”
“Rogue” employees? The remarkable thing about the stories that are emerging from various Tea Party groups is how consistent the IRS in the kinds of information they want — information that is clearly beyond the purview of their mandate and could even be considered trivial or harassing. Someone at the IRS took the time and effort to develop questions which they knew that organizations run out of a home would find burdensome and even impossible with which to comply.
The entire process seems to have been designed to delay, intimidate, and harass groups opposed to the re-election of the president. As has been pointed out before, the IRS excuse — that there was an avalanche of applications for tax exempt status and the IRS employees were only trying to be more efficient — is given the lie by Garance Franke-Ruta writing at The Atlantic:
But Todd Young, a Republican congressman from Indiana, pointed out at Friday’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing with former acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller and Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George that this was not the case, according to the very data the IRS provided to the Treasury IG’s office.
There were, he noted, actually fewer applications for tax-exempt status by groups seeking to be recognized as social-welfare organizations that year than the previous one, according to this IRS data. The real surge in applications did not come until 2012 — the year the IRS stopped the practice of treating the Tea Party class of groups differently from others.
In short, the evidence does not support the reasons given for the targeting by IRS officials. More fodder for the suits that will be filed by Tea Party groups wronged by IRS bullying.
This actually makes perfect sense. We can’t have tax exempt groups running around praying for a GOP victory. The IRS felt compelled to look into the souls of their targets in order to determine just how partisan their praying was and if they prayed equally for Democrats and Republicans.
Best if pro-life groups start maintaining a “prayer log” for reporting purposes.
While applying with the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status in 2009, an Iowa-based anti-abortion group was asked to provide information about its members’ prayer meetings, documents sent by an IRS official to the organization reveal.
On June 22, 2009, the Coalition for Life of Iowa received a letter from the IRS office in Cincinnati, Ohio, that oversees tax exemptions requesting details about how often members pray and whether their prayers are “considered educational.”
“Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational as defined under 501(c)(3),” reads the letter, made public by the Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm that collected evidence about the IRS practices. “Organizations exempt under 501(c)(3) may present opinions with scientific or medical facts. Please explain in detail the activities at these prayer meetings. Also, please provide the percentage of time your organizations spends on prayer groups as compared with the other activities of the organization.”
The IRS is currently under fire for allegedly targeting conservative groups that applied for nonprofit status in recent years. In response, two IRS officials have stepped down, including Acting Commissioner Steven Miller.
At the Ways and Means Committee hearing yesterday, Weasel Miller gave the following response when questioned about the IRS query:
“It pains me to say I can’t speak to that one either,” Miller said. He had said earlier that he would not be able to discuss individual cases during the hearing.
“You don’t know whether or not that would be an appropriate question to ask?” Schock replied.
“Speaking outside of this case, which I don’t know anything about, it would surprise me that that question was asked,” Miller said.
Documented proof isn’t good enough for this clown. And judging by his cluelessness, there is very little doubt that Miller was “surprised” a great deal of the time about what the IRS was asking conservatives when auditing their applications.
Well, this is great. Ryan Gallagher at Slate, a Washington Post affiliate, reported yesterday that:
when the feds came knocking for AP journalists’ call records last year, Verizon apparently turned the data over with no questions asked. The New York Times, citing an AP employee, reported Tuesday that at least two of the reporters’ personal cellphone records “were provided to the government by Verizon Wireless without any attempt to obtain permission to tell them so the reporters could ask a court to quash the subpoena.”
Controversially, the AP was not given advance notice of the seizure, which is considered the usual protocol when the government is seeking to obtain journalists’ records. However, Verizon Wireless could have notified the reporters, which may have helped them challenge its legality. Companies like Dropbox and Twitter have made it their policy to inform users (whenever possible) that the government is seeking access to their data, and Twitter has been applauded for how it has been willing to challenge authorities’ surveillance attempts in court. But Verizon—like AT&T, Facebook, and Comcast—has been criticized in the past for its lack of willingness to stand up for users’ privacy rights, which suggests its decision to hand over AP reporters’ records is true to form. The company has been rated as one of the worst in the United States for three consecutive years in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s annual “Who Has Your Back?” reports.
Should we initiate the Drudge protocol?
As I pointed out in my “What Did the President Know…” article yesterday, the evidence “strongly suggested” that the question to the IRS chief of the tax-exempt organizations division, Lois Lerner, which led to the revelations about the agency targeting conservatives, was probably a plant.
One of the few nuggets of information gleaned from the “not quite fired” former IRS commissioner Stephen Miller in yesterday’s testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee confirmed that suspicion.
Lois Lerner, an IRS official with oversight of tax-exempt groups, disclosed the scrutiny at an American Bankers Association conference last Friday after a question from a lawyer who has served on IRS advisory boards.
Questioned by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Miller acknowledged that IRS officials were aware that the question would be coming.
“I believe that we talked about that, yes,” Miller said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, the first congressional inquiry into the agency’s actions.
Both Lerner and Miller testified before Congress last week, but did not discuss the attention given to Tea Party groups. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) said at Friday’s hearing that he asked Lerner last week about the IRS’s oversight of political groups seeking tax-exempt status.
For his part, Miller has consistently said throughout Friday’s hearing that he did not mislead Congress — under sharp questioning from Republicans who aren’t so sure of that.
“I always answered questions truthfully,” Miller said.
But never volunteered information that you knew full well was political dynamite.
With the inspector general’s audit of her section due out the following Tuesday, Lerner took the limited hang-out route by asking a lawyer, Celia Roady, who sat on a couple of IRS boards, to ask a question about the potential targeting of political groups.
“Lois, a few months ago there were some concerns about the IRS’s review of 501(c)(4) organizations, of applications from tea party organizations,” Celia Roady, a veteran tax lawyer, asked Lois Lerner, head of the IRS’ tax-exempt organizations division, a few minutes after Lerner finished giving prepared remarks. “I was just wondering if you could provide an update.”
Lerner gave her response, referring to notes that were prepared in advance.
While Lerner’s remarks have since been referred to as a “slip” by lawmakers and media reports, several people in the audience on Friday said they saw Lerner refer to notes when answering the question, as if she’d prepared the response in advance. The whole thing was so strange, some even speculated that the question itself had been a plant.
You don’t just innocently plant a question when anyone with half a brain knows that the answer will set off a nuclear bomb in Washington. There was purpose and planning behind the gesture — a strategy that we are supposed to believe was created and developed at the IRS with no help from the White House.
The public relations strategy to release information that would develop into the most significant and dangerous scandal of the Obama presidency would not be left to the flaks at an agency not known for a good public image.
It’s very difficult to believe that the planted question, the roll out of the narrative, and the rest of the PR campaign to limit the damage from this revelation was not carried out by people in the White House. If so, they must have known of the targeting program far longer than anyone has so far admitted.
President Obama continues to insist that he first became aware of his IRS targeting conservative groups a week ago Friday when the news first broke.
This, despite the fact that his White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, had been informed of the probe on April 22. And despite the fact, as the New York Times reports, that officials in his Treasury Department knew in March that tea party groups had been targeted.
The inspector general gave Republicans some fodder Friday when he divulged that he informed the Treasury’s general counsel he was auditing the I.R.S.’s screening of politically active groups seeking tax exemptions on June 4, 2012. He told Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin “shortly after,” he said. That meant Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year.
The disclosure last summer came as part of a routine briefing of the investigations that the inspector general would be conducting in the coming year, and he did not tell the officials of his conclusions that the targeting had been improper, he said.
Treasury officials stressed they did not know the results until March 2013, when the inspector presented a draft.
So the administration knew in March — a month before it was previously believed the administration had knowledge of the impropriety of the targeting program — that the president had a monumental political problem on his hands.
And yet no one bothered to tell him? His newly minted Treasury secretary claims he knew “in mid March” of the IG’s probe but says he didn’t get any of the details until a week ago Friday:
“I learned the substance of this report last Friday when it became a matter of public knowledge,” Lew said. “Before that, in mid March, I had had a conversation, just a getting-to-know-you conversation, with the inspector general right after I started, and he went through a number of items that were matters they were working on. And the topic of a project on the 501(c)3 [sic] issue was one of the things he briefed me was ongoing.
“I didn’t know any of the details of it until last Friday. When I learned about it — from the moment I learned about it, I was outraged,” he added.
Yes, yes, Jackie, I’m sure your were “outraged.” But perhaps you can explain how some of your underlings knew of the “results” of the IG probe at the same time you claim to be in the dark about the “details” of the investigation?
Instead of answering that, or any other question, Treasury flaks issued a statement that answers a question nobody is asking:
“Treasury strongly supports the independent oversight of its three inspectors general, and it does not interfere in ongoing I.G. audits,” the department said in a statement Friday evening.
Nobody wants to know if Treasury “interfered” in the IG audit. Nobody asked that question. But it sure sounds good, doesn’t it?
The liberal network is the Iron Dome for the Obama administration, but that doesn’t seem to be working in its favor concerning ratings. In his May 16 column, Joe Concha at Mediaite showed how the network was successful in turning “Mitt Romney into Gordon Gekko” in 2012, and saw its ratings soar to its highest levels. As a result, MSNBC vowed to overtake CNN, which really isn’t a all that impressive. What’s even more embarrassing was that during the Boston Bombing, everyone decided to watch CNN and HLN. In fact, HLN and CNN overtook MSNBC in the ratings with the coveted 24-54 demographic. Why? Concha said:
[I]n short, Phil Griffin’s network revolves around one thing: Politics. And that world just ain’t that compelling unless there’s ballot box somewhere in the near future. MSNBC is also built on pointing out the hypocrisy and/or evil nature of the Republican Party and Fox News, two cornerstones of its content. But now it is President Obama and his promise to be a completely transparent administration that is being gleefully exposed as hypocritical by the GOP and Fox.
In other words, the President is (to quote Tom Cruise in The Firm): “…like a ship carrying a cargo that will never reach any port”.
On the U.S.S. Obama is MSNBC. And in making a run at Fox and in an effort to distance itself from CNN, they simply rearranged the deck chairs by doing things like moving Chris Hayes from weekday mornings to primetime. The result has been nothing short of disastrous, as he now trailsThe O’Reilly Factor by a 7-to-1 margin while failing to get 500,000 viewers per night (Keith Olbermann, conversely, routinely generated over 1.2 million viewers before being asked to leave).
The only hope, of course, is Hillary and the Clinton for President 2.0 2016 campaign. It was somehow the lead story on the Chris Matthews Show on Sunday. All complete with fat jokes aboutChris Christie (lather, rinse, repeat) from the host, who ain’t exactly Calista Flockhart himself…
Benghazi? IRS? AP phone records seized? Nope…it’s all about an election 42 months away. Why? Because it’s a challenge to defend the President these days. His party won’t win in 2014. He’s already past tense, a lame duck. What to do?
Well, they’re trying to defend the president.
I do not believe what the IRS was reported to have been doing is an outrage. I believe that the IRS agents in this case did nothing wrong. Let me say it again, you won’t hear it anywhere else: the IRS agents did nothing wrong. They were simply trying to enforce the law as the IRS has understood it since 1959.” – Lawrence O’Donnell on the IRS.
“Conservatives still want to change the subject to the fake, ginned up scandal they’ve been pushing month after month.” – Chris Hayes on Benghazi.