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Old 05-17-2013, 12:17 PM  
petegz28 petegz28 is offline
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This Is No Ordinary Scandal

We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate. The reputation of the Obama White House has, among conservatives, gone from sketchy to sinister, and, among liberals, from unsatisfying to dangerous. No one likes what they're seeing. The Justice Department assault on the Associated Press and the ugly politicization of the Internal Revenue Service have left the administration's credibility deeply, probably irretrievably damaged. They don't look jerky now, they look dirty. The patina of high-mindedness the president enjoyed is gone.

Something big has shifted. The standing of the administration has changed.

As always it comes down to trust. Do you trust the president's answers when he's pressed on an uncomfortable story? Do you trust his people to be sober and fair-minded as they go about their work? Do you trust the IRS and the Justice Department? You do not.

The president, as usual, acts as if all of this is totally unconnected to him. He's shocked, it's unacceptable, he'll get to the bottom of it. He read about it in the papers, just like you.

But he is not unconnected, he is not a bystander. This is his administration. Those are his executive agencies. He runs the IRS and the Justice Department.

A president sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is too partisan, too disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads too. Presidents always undo themselves and then blame it on the third guy in the last row in the sleepy agency across town.

The IRS scandal has two parts. The first is the obviously deliberate and targeted abuse, harassment and attempted suppression of conservative groups. The second is the auditing of the taxes of political activists.

In order to suppress conservative groups—at first those with words like "Tea Party" and "Patriot" in their names, then including those that opposed ObamaCare or advanced the second amendment—the IRS demanded donor rolls, membership lists, data on all contributions, names of volunteers, the contents of all speeches made by members, Facebook FB +0.65% posts, minutes of all meetings, and copies of all materials handed out at gatherings. Among its questions: What are you thinking about? Did you ever think of running for office? Do you ever contact political figures? What are you reading? One group sent what it was reading: the U.S. Constitution.

The second part of the scandal is the auditing of political activists who have opposed the administration. The Journal's Kim Strassel reported an Idaho businessman named Frank VanderSloot, who'd donated more than a million dollars to groups supporting Mitt Romney. 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. Hal Scherz, a Georgia physician, also came to the government's attention. He told ABC News: "It is odd that nothing changed on my tax return and I was never audited until I publicly criticized ObamaCare." Franklin Graham, son of Billy, told Politico he believes his father was targeted. A conservative Catholic academic who has written for these pages faced questions about her meager freelance writing income. Many of these stories will come out, but not as many as there are. People are not only afraid of being audited, they're afraid of saying they were audited.

All of these IRS actions took place in the years leading up to the 2012 election. They constitute the use of governmental power to intrude on the privacy and shackle the political freedom of American citizens. The purpose, obviously, was to overwhelm and intimidate—to kill the opposition, question by question and audit by audit.

It is not even remotely possible that all this was an accident, a mistake. Again, only conservative groups were targeted, not liberal. It is not even remotely possible that only one IRS office was involved. Lois Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the IRS, was the person who finally acknowledged, under pressure of a looming investigative report, some of what the IRS was doing. She told reporters the actions were the work of "frontline people" in Cincinnati. But other offices were involved, including Washington. It is not even remotely possible the actions were the work of just a few agents. This was more systemic. It was an operation. The word was out: Get the Democratic Party's foes. It is not remotely possible nobody in the IRS knew what was going on until very recently. The Washington Post reported efforts to target the conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency by May 2012—far earlier than the agency had acknowledged. Reuters reported high-level IRS officials, including its chief counsel, knew in August 2011 about the targeting.

The White House is reported to be shellshocked at public reaction to the scandal. But why? Were they so high-handed, so essentially ignorant, that they didn't understand what it would mean to the American people when their IRS—the revenue-collecting arm of the U.S. government—is revealed as a low, ugly and bullying tool of the reigning powers? If they didn't know how Americans would react to that, what did they know? I mean beyond Harvey Weinstein's cellphone number.

And why—in the matters of the Associated Press and Benghazi too—does no one in this administration ever take responsibility? Attorney General Eric Holder doesn't know what happened, exactly who did what. The president speaks in the passive voice. He attempts to act out indignation, but he always seems indignant at only one thing: that he's being questioned at all. That he has to address this. That fate put it on his plate.

We all have our biases. Mine is for a federal government that, for all the partisan shootouts on the streets of Washington, is allowed to go about its work. That it not be distracted by scandal, that political disagreement be, in the end, subsumed to the common good. It is a dangerous world: Calculating people wish to do us harm. In this world no draining, unproductive scandals should dominate the government's life. Independent counsels should not often come in and distract the U.S. government from its essential business.

But that bias does not fit these circumstances.

What happened at the IRS is the government's essential business. The IRS case deserves and calls out for an independent counsel, fully armed with all that position's powers. Only then will stables that badly need to be cleaned, be cleaned. Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if they don't, the politicization of the IRS will continue—forever. If it is not stopped now, it will never stop. And if it isn't stopped, no one will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering arm of the U.S. government again.

And it would be shameful and shallow for any Republican operative or operator to make this scandal into a commercial and turn it into a mere partisan arguing point and part of the game. It's not part of the game. This is not about the usual partisan slugfest. This is about the integrity of our system of government and our ability to trust, which is to say our ability to function.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...479247792.html
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:22 PM   #2
petegz28 petegz28 is offline
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As the fog settles is anyone really surprised at any of this? I mean seriously, Chicago politics along with typical hard-edged, socialism tactics are smeared all over this stuff.

Can anyone really believe Obama when he says for the umpteenth time that he didn't know about any of this?

I mean this guy is either lying through his teeth or is totally incompetent.
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petegz28 View Post
...I mean this guy is either lying through his teeth or is totally incompetent.
"Or" is the wrong word.

Of course I don't believe him. Compulsive truth telling has never been that shitbag's problem.
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:03 PM   #4
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Pete's totally right. The parallels between Obama and Nixon are IMPOSSIBLE to ignore.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politic...y_Is_Very_Hard
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petegz28 View Post
...

Can anyone really believe Obama when he says for the umpteenth time that he didn't know about any of this?

...
They can, and they do.
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:11 PM   #6
petegz28 petegz28 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cave Johnson View Post
Pete's totally right. The parallels between Obama and Nixon are IMPOSSIBLE to ignore.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politic...y_Is_Very_Hard
Anyone who buys this was the work of a few dolts in Cinci deserves to be dropped off in the middle of the desert where they can enjoy their Oceanside view.
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:13 PM   #7
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I'm waiting to hear that all of these events were set up by the same right wing conspiracy group, that Hillary bitched about going after Bill Clinton, to assure that Obama was neutered.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petegz28 View Post
I mean this guy is either lying through his teeth or is totally incompetent.
My brother said the same thing to me this morning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ClevelandBronco View Post
"Or" is the wrong word.
I said the same thing to my brother this morning.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:39 PM   #9
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Really nothing to add, Pete.

It's unbelievable whats going on with this clown car regime.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:49 PM   #10
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I was at a drunken table full of political discussion last night between a restaurant manager, a dentist in training, a bus boy, a single mom and a bitchy girl who lives off her boyfriend.

They didn't even think this was a big deal and they love Murica and Obama.

That's what's wrong.
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Old 05-17-2013, 03:53 PM   #11
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"Many of these stories will come out, but not as many as there are. People are not only afraid of being audited, they're afraid of saying they were audited."


Mission accomplished.
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Old 05-17-2013, 03:56 PM   #12
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This country is teetering on the edge of a hideous future.

Whether it's too late to save ourselves, only the next few years will tell.
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Old 05-17-2013, 06:16 PM   #13
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Everyone be prepared for the admin to say that, while technically they may have not said things as "fully" as the politically-motivated GOP wants, but that nothing illegal happened and it wasn't their intent to mislead. And that they will get to the bottom of it. And that it is Bush's fault. And that the GOP is getting in the way of the people's business.

Also, the media will move on from this and claim the GOP is "overplaying" any misdeeds.

You saw it happen with Jay Carney who can't bring himself to admit he lied and the IRS commissioner today saying he told the truth. No one outside of the right will call them on it and Obama will eventually turn this into a marginalized, partisan witch hunt.
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Old 05-17-2013, 06:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bump View Post
I was at a drunken table full of political discussion last night between a restaurant manager, a dentist in training, a bus boy, a single mom and a bitchy girl who lives off her boyfriend.
What's wrong with that?
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Old 05-17-2013, 06:28 PM   #15
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What's wrong with that?
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