"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Nothing to See Here

Of course there wasn't coordination between the White House and the IRS in targeting conservative groups.   Of course not.   Former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman was completely independent from any political motives.   Of course he was.   This is all a fantasy of right-wingers.   The IRS was just trying to be more efficient in how it processed applications for 501(c)(4) exempt status. 

On the other hand:

Wacha Wacha Wacha





























Michael Wacha starts for the Cardinals tonight.   I cannot remember a more anticipated debut, or, really, a more anticipated regular season game in May.   The BFIBs are going crazy.

I also can't remember a rookie pitcher ever progressing through the Cardinals system to the majors faster.   Wacha is 21 and was the Cards' 1st round draft choice just last year.   He pitched 21 innings in the minors last summer, and has started 9 games at AAA Memphis this year (4-0 with a 2.05 ERA).   He impressed everyone in spring training when he didn't give up a run; in particular, he apparently really impressed Yadi Molina, who may be even more important than the manager or the GM in terms of evaluating the Cards' pitching talent.  

Is it too fast to bring him up?   Yes and no.   Yes if the Cards plan on running him out to the mound for 20+ more starts and 140-150 more innings this year (he's already at 52 for the season from his time at Memphis).   But no if the Cards plan on using him judiciously until Jake Westbrook or Chris Carpenter or John Gast gets back.    The Cards have a bit of a dilemma this year in that they have talent that they don't want to burn (Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and Wacha), pitchers who are all 21-22 years old who have never thrown anywhere near 200 innings in a season.   I suspect that they may be very creative over the next four months in how they use them, and how they mix them with the holdovers in the rotation (Wainwright and Lynn), the veterans who hopefully will return (Westbrook and Carpenter) and the slightly older rookies (Gast and Tyler Lyons, 24 and 25, respectively).   If Westbrook and Carpenter can't make it back, I wouldn't be surprised to see a deadline deal for a mid-level innings eater using some of our minor league depth as bait (Ryan Jackson and maybe one of the trio of third basemen we drafted last year, Piscotty, Wisdom or Carson Kelly).

Anyway, Wacha is must see TV tonight at the Regular Guy's house.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Krauthammer Goes Where Angels Fear to Tread


Obama as Nixon

From Real Clear Politics:



Girl of the Day - Skinny Betty

Finally, Mad Men this week got January Jones out of the fat suit!   Fans had been clamoring to let Betty Draper be free, and critics (like me) had lamented that the show was wasting its best "asset" (ahem).   Last Sunday, she was back with a vengeance to torment Don Draper with what might have been.  



VDH on Western Cultural Suicide

Victor Davis Hanson, writing today on what used to be called "the suicide of the west," offers this nugget which encapsulates the emptiness of multiculturalist elitism about as succinctly as anything I've read:

The hip metrosexual cultures of the urban West strain to find fault in their inheritance, and seem to appreciate those who do that in the most cool fashion — but always with the expectation that there will be some poor blokes who, in terms of clean water, medical care, free speech, and dependable electricity, ensure that London is not Lagos, that Stockholm is not Damascus, and that Los Angeles is not Nuevo Laredo.
 
Just so.   Our elites are constantly criticizing American culture and American society, while effectively extollling the virtues and "authenticity" of the Third World, yet none of them would want to live without iPads and cable and home delivery of the New York Times and pedicures and plentiful abundant food of all varieties and workout clubs and the whole panoply of widely available leisure in this, the most spoiled nation in history.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The "Dark Ages" Explained

This is interesting on many levels, not least in the way it points toward the future of education (which may not involve high-priced colleges and may instead be "free" and crowd-sourced):


Monday, May 27, 2013

More Rick Atkinson for Memorial Day

Here's another Memorial Day moment from Rick Atkinson's fine new book, The Guns at Last Light:
Murphy and his rifle platoon were making for St.-Tropez at ten A.M., when German machine-gun fire rattled down a rocky draw, stopping the advance with the incivility of a slammed door.   Murphy scampered back to the beach, grabbed a light machine-gun from a dawdling gunner, and dragged it back uphill to his men.  With his commandeered gun, grenades, and a carbine, he killed two enemy gunners atop a knoll and enticed a white flag from a second nest.   But when Private First Class Lattie Tipton stood to take the surrender, a sniper shot him dead.   Enraged, Murphy killed the surrendering Germans with grenades before seizing an enemy machine-gun; firing from the hip, he exterminated two more enemy fighting positions.   "My whole being," he later wrote, "is concentrated on killing."... When the shooting finally ceased, Murphy slipped a pack under Tipton's head as a pillow, then sat down and wept.
 
The "Murphy" of this story is, of course, Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of the War.   For this action he "only" won the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal for valor America awards.   Later he would win the Medal of Honor.

The citations of America's Medal of Honor winners can be found here, and make for good Memorial Day reading.

Lest we forget.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Girl of the Day - Jeanne Crain

 It's Jeanne Crain's birthday.   I can't frankly remember what I saw her in... probably 1945's State Fair... but for some reason I remember her as one of the great beauties of mid-century Hollywood.   Her career, like so many actresses', petered out, undoubtedly partly because she had seven children.    Good for her.

Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light, and Memorial Day
























I'm reading Rick Atkinson's The Guns at Last Light, the final volume of his trilogy about the American Army in the European Theater.   The first two volumes took us through North Africa and then into Sicily and Italy.   Now we are to the great conflict in France and Germany, beginning, of course, with D-Day.   Atkinson is terrific, both as a writer and as a historian, and I heartily recommend the books, but it's perhaps particularly appropriate to be reading them on Memorial Day.   Here's the kind of thing that our grandfathers did for us fighting their way off Omaha Beach:

Up the bluff they climbed, single file, marking mines with white engineer tape, cigarettes, and scraps from a ration box.   Smoke hid them from German marksmen but made them weep until they strapped on gas masks.   Mortar rounds killed a trio of soldiers next to [Brigadier General Norman "Dutch"] Cota and wounded his radioman; knocked flat but unscathed, the general regained his feet and followed the snaking column toward the hillcrest, past captured Germans spread-eagled on the ground.   Then over the lip of the ridge they ran, past stunted pines and through uncut wheat as Cota yelled, "Now let's see what your made of!"   GIs hauling a captured MG-42 machine gun with ammunition belts draped around their necks poured fire into enemy trenches and at the broken ranks pelting inland.
 

Lest we forget.   

Friday, May 24, 2013

Connecting the Dots on the IRS Scandal

Would the President have really ordered the IRS to harass Tea Party groups in early 2010?   I think the answer is yes.   Consider the context:

  • The IG report on the IRS' targeting of conservatives pinpoints it as starting in March 2010.
  • In February 2010, a nut named Joseph Stack flew a small plane into the IRS building in Austin, TX.   He left behind a manifesto that, among other things, criticized the overly complex tax code.   (He also appeared to side with communism against capitalism, but that didn't get as much attention.)
  • Pundits such as Frank Rich of the New York Times immediately linked Stack to the Tea Party, albeit without any evidence:
"Stack was a lone madman, and it would be both glib and inaccurate to call him a card-carrying Tea Partier or a ''Tea Party terrorist.'' But he did leave behind a manifesto whose frothing anti-government, anti-tax rage overlaps with some of those marching under the Tea Party banner."  (2/28/2010)
  • Meanwhile, other liberal pundits like Leonard Pitts were arguing openly that the Tea Party was nothing more than racism against a black President:
"The tea party people distrust Mr. Obama's policies, his eloquence, his fierce intelligence, and the fact that he is black then becomes the final straw. To put that another way: I doubt most tea partiers hate Mr. Obama strictly because he is black, but it sure doesn't help." (2/28/2010)
Why were the pundits so exercised against the tea party and so fearful of its clout?   Because they were losing.   Only a month earlier, Republican Scott Brown out of nowhere had won the Senate seat of Teddy Kennedy in Massachusetts, winning the special election for the seat on January 19th.    Polls were showing a majority of Americans didn't want to see Obama re-elected.

Losing makes you desperate.

  • Desperate enough for Obama to break tradition and openly attack the Supreme Court during his State of the Union address in late January 2010, specifically on the issue of campaign finance reform and the Citizens United decision.

Desperate enough to sic the IRS on your political enemies in the Tea Party?

I think that question answers itself.

***

Kudos to the WSJ and Kim Strassel for a great article providing still more context of the 2010 move to go after the Tea Party by the IRS.





 

Not Good for America... But Really Not Good for Obama... And Really Really Really Not Good for Eric Holder





























Here's Eric Holder swearing to tell the truth before last week's testimony before Congress.   Usually sitting cabinet members are not required to take the oath, but that courtesy was suspended for this hearing.   So he was under oath, and any lies would be punishable as perjury, which carries a five-year potential prison sentence.

That's not good.   Here's why.

Holder testified that he had never been involved with, heard of, and wouldn't tolerate going after the phone records of journalists in leak investigations.

But it turns out he had personally approved and signed the application to subpoena the phone records of James Rosen of FoxNews.

Look's like perjury to me.

And remember:   this is the Attorney General of the United States hand-picked by Barack Obama to serve as his chief law enforcement officer.

He can't commit perjury.   If the Attorney General commits perjury, the credibility of the law in America collapses.

Holder must go.  




Girl of the Day - "Grandniece" Version

My nephew Jason's first baby is awesome!

Birthday Today - Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan turns 72 today.   Overrated?   Maybe a little.   But it's hard to overestimate the impact of Dylan in the first half of the 1960s.   Did he change the whole culture?   Not really... the 1960s were going to happen, one way or the other.   But he certainly changed music, as here:




"Horrible Customer Service" Indeed

Charles Krauthammer captures the IRS scandal in a nutshell here, including the pathetic evasions of the administration's witnesses to Congress:

"Horrible customer service.” That’s what the newly fired IRS commissioner averred was the agency’s only sin in singling out conservative political groups for discriminatory treatment.

In such grim proceedings one should be grateful for unintended humor. Horrible customer service is when every patron in a restaurant finds a fly in his soup. But when the maitre d’ screens patrons for their politics and only conservatives find flies paddle-wheeling through their consomm√©, the problem is not poor service. It is harassment and invidious discrimination.
 
And, let me add... it's a crime.

Watch Out for the Friday Super-Dump!

It's the Friday before a long weekend, before an even longer Congressional recess, the first weekend of summer, etc.   There's baseball, NBA playoffs, swimming pools opening, grilling with family, drinking beer on the patio.   There's blockbuster movies opening.

And, of course, there's already scandals dominating the news, a beheading in England, a tornado in Oklahoma.   Lots and lots and lots of distractions.

Expect the Obama Administration to release some new bombshells of information today, either about the existing scandals (Benghazi, IRS, DOJ/AP, maybe even Fast and Furious), or some new scandal.  

It's the time-honored Washington tradition of the Friday afternoon document dump writ large.

What will it be?


***

UPDATE:   At 11:24 am on Friday, 5/24/13, my prediction is... (drumroll).

Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, will resign before the end of the day.   As I say in a post above, the Attorney General can't be caught in an obvious lie when he's under oath before Congress.   He's got to go, and now is the time, for all the reasons I noted... Memorial Day weekend, sunshine, long Congressional recess, etc.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Very Important Memo from Cleta Mitchell of Foley and Lardner III

Another bombshell from Cleta Mitchell's memo on the IRS scandal.   Again, she's responding to Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Mitchell's sworn testimony:

The agency pinpointed two "rogue" employees in the Cincinnati IRS office as being responsible for "overly aggressive" handling of tea party requests for tax-exempt status over the past two years.
This is completely false. In 2011, at least one of the Cincinnati IRS agents assigned to handle two clients' applications advised me that the Washington, DC office was actively involved in the decisions and processing of my clients' applications for exempt status. This was memorialized in a letter to the agent, Ron Bell, on November 8, 2011. When I called him in December 2011 for an update, he advised me that the applications had been transferred to a special task force in Washington, DC for further review. The effort by senior IRS officials to lay this scheme at the hands of a few low level' IRS employees is despicable and must not be tolerated.
 
Here is the relevant passage from the November 8, 2011 letter:


































So, as of 11/8/11 the Cincinnati office was forwarding the application of a conservative group to Washington for review?   Hmmmm.... that doesn't fit with the low-level, rogue employees in a small office somewhere in the hinterlands, now does it?

Someone should make the point (so I will) that the behavior of Obama in this is extraordinarily bad leadership.   Passing the buck down, blaming underlings, refusing to take responsibility, scapegoating... this is all the opposite of what any second john in the Army is taught about leading.  

It's no wonder the mantra of the Obama Administration is "leading from behind"!

 


A Very Important Memo from Cleta Mitchell of Foley and Lardner II

As I said in my last post, the key takeaway from Cleta  Mitchell's memo on the IRS scandal is that  all of the blather from Dems about how the flood of 501(c)(4) applications necessitated additional scrutiny is bullshit.     Here is how she makes the point.   Again, she is responding to a direct quote (bolded below) from Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller when he was under oath testifying to Congress:

"I think that what happened here was that foolish mistakes were made by people who were trying to be more efficient in their workload selection."
So the decision to change a system that (prior to 2010) might ask 5 to 6 short questions specifically about an application to one that consisted of dozens of questions, necessitating volumes of materials and documents to be filed with the IRS was done in order to 'be more efficient'? Acting Commissioner Miller also spoke about IRS employees 'taking shortcuts'. This was hardly a 'shortcut' when it lengthened the process substantially, as documented in the TIGTA Report.
 
Indeed, as Mitchell demonstrates elsewhere, before 2010 501(c)(4) applications were typically processed in 3 to 6 months, and sometimes within a matter of weeks.   If the IRS was trying to be "more efficient," wouldn't they have wanted to shorten the time that they were spending on individual files, not lengthen the process?   Wouldn't they have wanted to ask fewer questions requiring less document review, rather than so many more questions requiring expansive document production and, presumably, review by agency personnel?   Isn't that what "efficiency" means?

Again, it just doesn't scan logically... unless you apply Occam's Razor.

They weren't trying to be efficient.   They weren't trying to expedite the process.   They were trying to do exactly what they ended up doing... delay specific types of applicants indefinitely so that they couldn't do what they intended to do:   advocate, lobby, and engage in political speech prior to the 2012 election.  

Updating Occam to 2013... the added bureaucratic inefficiency wasn't a bug... it was a feature.

A Very Important Memo from Cleta Mitchell of Foley & Lardner

Cleta Mitchell is a partner in the Washington office of Foley and Lardner, an AmLaw50-type big law firm.   (Full disclosure... Foley's home office is in Milwaukee and I can see it out my window; it is a very good firm with very good lawyers, many of whom are friends of mine.)   She is a specialist in representing clients seeking 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.   She represents a number of conservative groups who were harassed and delayed in their attempts to get 501(c)(4) status during the run-up to the 2012 elections.  

Ms. Mitchell has now written a very important memo that is required reading for anyone wanting to understand the IRS scandal now buffeting the Obama Administration.   I'm going to hit the highlights in a series of posts, because they are so important.

First, she gives a terrific summary of what 501(c)(4) organizations can do, which puts the lie to the notion that they needed any extra scrutiny in the first instance.   Here she is directly responding to testimony from IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller (the quote in bold):
"Generally, 501(c) applications are centralized for review if there are indications in the application that the organization may engage in political campaign intervention, lobbying or advocacy. This was done to sure that the legal requirements related to these applications are applied in a fair and consistent manner."
This was never done prior to 2010. The Acting Commissioner is not being truthful. These terms "political campaign intervention, lobbying or advocacy" are legal terms of art and subject to years of regulations, standards of review, cases and interpretation.   
During and after 2010, the only'centralization' that occurred was that involving conservative organizations seeking 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) recognition.  
The terms have legal meaning and should not have been treated in the subjective manner in which the IRS considered these applications. Here is a short overview of the differences in the terms. They are not interchangeable as the Acting Commissioner has suggested.
1. Advocacy.
No legal definition and NO prohibition in Internal Revenue Code. All groups advocate in some way or another for their mission. Totally permissible for ALL exempt organizations.
2. Lobbying.
IRC defines it as an expenditure to influence legislation. A c4 is permitted to spend 100 % of its funds on lobbying. A c3 is permitted to spend a portion of its funds on lobbying. In other words, lobbying is a legally permissible activity for both types of entities, just allowable in differing amounts. Most of the tea party organizations were seeking to engage in lobbying activities that are completely permissible for a c4 organization. So why were they subject to this extra scrutiny?
3. Political.
IRC does not define "political" as such. The IRC definition refers to an expenditure for "partisan campaign intervention". A c4 CAN make such expenditures as long as it is NOT a majority of its expenditures in any fiscal/calendar year. In other words, it is legally permissible for a c4 to make political expenditures as long as those expenditures are a) not a majority of its program expenditures and b) the c4 reports and pays taxes on its political expenditures. Only a 501(c)(3) is prohibited from making expenditures for partisan campaign intervention. Virtually all of the organizations targeted were seeking 501(c)(4) status, which permits them to engage in some degree of political campaign activity.  
To have singled out these groups was to try to keep them from engaging in legally permissible political speech and association, in violation of the First Amendment. 
To sum up Attorney Mitchell's points... the Tea Party groups were not being singled out for additional scrutiny because they were likely to do things that would be illegal, they were singled out for additional scrutiny because they were openly planning to do things that were legal, and the Obama Administration didn't want them to have that opportunity, not when retaining their power in the 2012 election was at stake.

Key takeaway... all of the blather from Dems about how the flood of 501(c)(4) applications necessitated additional scrutiny is bullshit.   This was a conscious conspiracy to deprive American citizens of their First Amendment rights.

More from Ms. Mitchell later.   It's great stuff.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Awesome SI Cover... and a Sad Note

The new SI cover and its historical inspiration:


























That's really awesome!

***

A marginally sad note, though... in 1968 the Cardinals had among their biggest stars three African-Americans, Hall-of-Famers Bob Gibson (the second greatest Cardinal ever behind Stan Musial) and Lou Brock, and the great centerfielder and trailblazer for players' rights, Curt Flood.   (Gibson and Brock were on the 1968 cover pictured above.)   As a child I read both Gibson's autobiography, From Ghetto to Glory, and Flood's, The Way It Is, many times, and came to deeply admire both men's toughness and intelligence.  (Flood, for instance, was a borderline artistic genius.)   When I played baseball, and when my son played, we always tried to get number 45 (Gibson), and our dog is named Gibby.   Where are the African-Americans in baseball now?   It isn't because of racism... this is the same league that has practically canonized Jackie Robinson.  

I think there are two reasons, one benign, one malign.

The benign reason... basketball.   Basketball has become the major sport for black Americans, and it isn't close anymore.   Young black boys dream of growing up to be Michael Jordan or Lebron James; they don't dream of growing up to be Bob Gibson or Lou Brock.

The malign reason?   Think about it... who does every boy learn baseball from?   Who plays the first game of catch with a boy, and goes out in the evening and on weekends, hour after hour, to play catch until the boy can throw and catch like a real baseball player?   Who takes the boy to the first major league game, teaches him how to keep score and how to read a box score?   Who takes him to the Little League games and coaches him up, who hits him grounders and flies on hot summer days, who throws him batting practice in a vacant lot or in the backyard with wiffle balls?

Fathers.

You can play basketball with yourself.   Mom can tell you to take your ball and go to the playground.   But baseball is a two-man game in its most fundamental aspects.   A thrower and a catcher.   A pitcher and a hitter.   A hitter and a fielder.   You can't play baseball alone.

So much of what has happened in black communities over the past few generations comes from fathers just not being around.

Like I said:   a sad note.  

The Obama Scandals and Plausible Deniability

Back in the days of Watergate yore, political wags used to talk about the President maintaining "plausible deniability," meaning that he had to be separate enough from dirty dealings so that he later could deny having known about them with a straight face.

It's getting harder to believe that Barack Obama's denials of knowledge of the IRS' targeting of conservatives and the DOJ's bugging of Fox will remain "plausible."   The proposition won't scan logically... a President who spoke constantly throughout his tenure of "enemies" and "revenge" and "punching back twice as hard" and "bringing a knife to a gun fight," who demonized and tried to delegitimize the Tea Party and FoxNews, who seems to glory in the raw power of his office -- the ability to summon drones to kill terrorists (and their families and passersby), to dispense trillions to favored constituents (read: Solyndra, Fiskar, etc.), to command performances at the White House of the creamiest of the cream of Hollywood and the entertainment industry -- do we really believe that this President would shrink from using the IRS or the DOJ to punish his political opposition?   Do we really believe that this President, with this level of narcissism, wouldn't revel in hearing about how his minions had hamstrung Tea Party groups' fund-raising?   Do we really believe that this President, with his hatred for Fox, wouldn't have been happy to hear that the network's White House correspondent had his phone records secretly subpoenaed?  

To the contrary, anyone whose eyes have been open the past five years knows that there were high-fives in the White House when Obama was told of the IRS' targeting of Tea Party 501(c)(4) groups, and again when he was told that FoxNews' James Rosen's phone records had been seized.  

This is going to get ugly.

Sentence of the Day

From John Yoo at NRO:

Add up all the recent scandals and the message is clear: the Obama administration is showing that it cannot be trusted with the basic functions of government: law enforcement (surveillance of reporters), taxation (IRS scandals), and national security (Benghazi).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Girl of the Day - Cher!

Ubiquitous in the 1960s, Cher turns 67 today.   Amazingly, she was all of 19 when Sonny and Cher went to London (allegedly on the advice of the Rolling Stones) and came back stars:





Scandal Du Jour

The Department of Justice, investigating a State Department leak, apparently secretly subpoenaed the personal email of a respected FoxNews reporter, James Rosen.

That this is chilling to the 1st Amendment protections of reporters should go without saying.

Whether the rest of the mainstream media will come down hard on the Obama Administration for this kind of jackbooted tactics remains to be seen.   If this were a Republican Administration.... ah, but hell, don't you get tired of saying that?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dan Pfeiffer Shows How Not to Be A White House Spokesman

Dan Pfeiffer was sent out by the White House to take the heat on today's morning news shows about the burgeoning scandals, including the IRS scandal.   Pro tip:  if you're going to be a flack, don't provide an easily understood sound bite like this that provides the only meme anyone will now be talking about:




So the takeaway is that the law is "irrelevant" to Obama? Good going, Mr. Pfeiffer! Excellent work! See you in the funny papers!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Big Government Problem in a Nutshell

From the great Michael Ramirez:

IRS: Malice,or Just Stupidity?

It's hard to tell as we keep turning over rocks at the IRS.   A new story today told the tale of how the IRS asked pro-life groups to describe the "content of their prayers."  

I'm not kidding.   The content of their prayers!

Here's the story, from the Thomas More Society:

Coalition for Life of Iowa found itself in the IRS’s crosshairs when the group applied for tax exempt status in October 2008. Nearly ten months of interrogation about the group’s opposition to Planned Parenthood included a demand by a Ms. Richards from the IRS’ Cincinnati office unlawfully insisted that all board members sign a sworn declaration promising not to picket/protest Planned Parenthood. Further questioning by the IRS requested detailed information about the content of the group’s prayer meetings, educational seminars, and signs their members hold outside Planned Parenthood.
 
On the one hand, you might view this as typical liberal malice toward pro-life conservatives.   It is self-evident at this late date that liberalism has created a de facto religion that holds as its chief sacrament the unfettered access to abortion.   They hate us.   We get that.

But, on the other hand, how stupid do you have to be in America ca. 2013, working in a government office, to ask someone about the "content of their prayer meetings"?   Anyone who has read the newspapers even casually over the past forty years knows that children can hardly say prayers in grade school anymore, because of the so-called "separation of church and state."   How on earth did an IRS worker think that it was appropriate for the state (the IRS) to ask a private citizen about their religious practices?  

Federal law, specifically 18 U.S.C. section 242,  makes it a crime to willfully act under color of law to deprive someone of their civil liberties.   First amendment religious freedom is a civil liberty.   The IRS is a government entity acting "under color of law."   The penalty is a fine or imprisonment for up to one year.   What happened in the case described by the Thomas More Society is about as obvious a violation of this criminal statute as I can imagine.

It is not too much to say that the Cincinnati office of the IRS is an enormous criminal enterprise.  

Criminally stupid.

***

UPDATE:   Of course, when you have this guy as your agency's head, maybe you might get the idea that no one would care very much if you started asking conservative groups about their prayers:






This is a guy who just doesn't get it. And by "it" I mean -- freedom, democracy, the Constitution, the whole nine yards.



Congressman Mike Kelly, American Hero

Sometimes hearings make stars out of members of Congress.   That may have happened today:


Why Drudge Still Rocks III


Hard to Keep Up II

Unidentified Treasury Department senior officials knew about the Inspector General report on the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups in June 2012, five months before the election, according to a report in the New York Times (of all places).    

Hmmmm... in June 2012:

Timothy Geithner was the Treasury Secretary.

Mark Patterson (former staffer for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle) was his Chief of Staff.

Neil Wolin, the Deputy Secretary, was an Obama White House staffer before joining the Treasury Department.

In other words:

Political animals.

Sure, they didn't tell anyone at the White House about this bombshell IG report coming down.

Sure.

Hard to Keep Up... With the Obama Scandals

From Sharyll Atkisson at CBS News, who has been doing actual journalism on the story, here's the latest trial balloon from the Obama administration about the Benghazi scandal:


Obama administration officials who were in key positions on Sept. 11, 2012, acknowledge that a range of mistakes were made the night of the attacks on the U.S. missions in Benghazi, and in messaging to Congress and the public in the aftermath.
The officials spoke to CBS News in a series of interviews and communications under the condition of anonymity so that they could be more frank in their assessments. They do not all agree on the list of mistakes and it's important to note that they universally claim that any errors or missteps did not cost lives and reflect "incompetence rather than malice or cover up." Nonetheless, in the eight months since the attacks, this is the most sweeping and detailed discussion by key players of what might have been done differently.
"We're portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots," said one Obama administration official who was part of the Benghazi response. "It's actually closer to us being idiots."...
 
The list of mea culpas by Obama administration officials involved in the Benghazi response and aftermath include: standing down the counterterrorism Foreign Emergency Support Team, failing to convene the Counterterrorism Security Group, failing to release the disputed Benghazi "talking points" when Congress asked for them, and using the word "spontaneous" while avoiding the word "terrorism."

I'll grant the incompetence -- of the underlings at State and the CIA and the National Security Council in the White house.   But what happened afterwards smacked of a concerted conspiracy to coverup that incomptence by more senior personnel, including the Obama campaign and Hillary's people.  

But this is a start... people are talking.

Unbelievable - The IRS Commissioner Doesn't Think It's Illegal to Target American Citizens Based on Their Political Viewpoints

The former acting IRS commissioner, Steve Miller, is testifying on Capitol Hill today about the IRS scandal.   When asked whether targeting American citizens by the IRS is illegal, he said the following:




I literally do not know what to say to this.   It's so unbelievable.   The head of an agency that is the single most intrusive and dangerous institution of government -- even when it's doing everything right! -- says it isn't illegal to target American citizens for harassment based on their viewpoints, choosing to harass conservative groups while letting liberal groups sail through?  

Has he never heard of the 1st Amendment?   Freedom of speech?   Freedom of association?

Has he never heard of the concept of equal protection under the laws?

Sheesh!   We're really through the looking glass here.

If You've Lost MSNBC...

This report is not good for Obama... here is MSNBC's Lisa Myers reporting that the IRS deliberately withheld revealing that it had been targeting conservative groups until after the 2012 election, despite direct inquiries from Congress about the practice:





So there are two huge stories, the IRS scandal and the Benghazi terrorist/Youtube video scandal, that were suppressed by the Obama Administration during the election. Hmmmm.... does anyone really think that those facts wouldn't have made a difference in what turned out to be a 3 point victory by Obama?

Payback? Woodward Uses the Word "Watergate"


Remember a few months ago when the White House threatened Bob Woodward that he would "regret" having crossed them with a story about Obama's own responsibility for the sequester?

Hmmmm.... a few months later, now you get Woodward, who is maybe the one man in America who can say "Watergate" and make news, saying this:



Payback can be a bitch.

Girl of the Day - Me Tarzan, You Jane! (Maureen O'Sullivan)




































The picture probably gives this one away, but that's Maureen O'Sullivan who played Jane in the 1930s Tarzan movies with Johnny Weismuller, and later played Jane in the 1942 Greer Garson/Laurence Olivier version of Pride and Prejudice.   A staunch Catholic lady and mother of seven (including the actress Mia Farrow), she was born on this day in 1911.

By the way, I notice that I'm back to back on days with Maureen O'Sullivan and Margaret Sullavan, both actresses from the 1930s, as my "girls of the day."   I wonder how often they were confused with each other back then?

The IRS Scandal and the "Low Information Voter"




















One of the biggest hurdles to get over in convincing the American people that the Obama administration is what we have always said they are -- a ruthless gang of Chicago thug-politicians who will do anything and say anything to maintain power and expand the state Leviathan -- is what some on the right call the "low information voter."   It is hard to convince this dim-bulb guy or gal that tyranny is around the corner if they don't know that Obamacare is now the law of the land, or don't know where Benghazi is on a map, or can't tell you that the State Department or the IRS or the ATF or the DoJ are all parts of the Executive Branch and therefore parts of Obama's responsibility, and not entirely separate entities whose activities can't be blamed on him.   Stupidity and time are the great allies of mendacious politicians, because there may very well be a critical mass of Americans who don't know the facts of a given scandal, or else can be convinced, if your stonewalling is effective, that it all happened "a long time ago" (see Carney, Jay).  

This fact, however, has a chance of getting even the "low information voter" over the hump regarding the IRS scandal.   Apparently the head of the IRS department that was carrying out the harassment of Tea Party groups in 2009-2012, Sarah Hall Ingram, received over $100,000 in bonuses over the same three year period.

$100,000.

Of our money.

Bonuses.

Now, I don't know about you, but I think most Americans don't like the IRS.   They don't like the paperwork, the hassle, the fear of audit.   They don't like the complexity.   Mostly they don't like the fact that they have to ship so much of their hard-earned money off to Washington.

Paid to the woman who led the charge to harass Americans simply because Obama didn't like their politics.   Bonuses for infringing on our civil rights, our right to free speech, our right to freedom of association, our right to be treated equally before the law.  

$100,000.

Of our money.

I think that "meme" (as they say) might have legs.   Even the low information voter might understand now that the federal government has become a protection racket where they hold a gun to our head, tell us to pay up or else, and then put the money in their own pockets.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Late Thoughts on the Gosnell Verdict

Kermit Gosnell was found guilty last week of the murders of three babies born alive after botched abortions in his abortion mill.   The national news finally covered the story, but only briefly, and this week's scandals have pushed it off the front page.   That is unfortunate, because the Gosnell case basic eviscerated (sorry for the word choice) the entire case for legal abortion:

1. Without legal abortion, we'll have "back-alley" abortions by medical hacks that put women at risk.

Gosnell, under a regime of legal abortion, couldn't have been more "back alley" if he'd tried.

2. Abortion is only about "terminating" a "clump of cells."

The pictures of the babies Gosnell killed looked like... well, they looked like babies.   I'm not going to listen quietly anymore when some liberal talks about a "clump of cells."   (Actually, since the advent of ultrasound, you don't hear this much anymore, since it's so obviously a lie now.   You just hear... crickets.   What actually happens in an abortion is That Which Cannot Be Mentioned in our Orwellian world.)

3. Late-term abortion is very very rare.

Apparently not in Philadelphia.

4. Legal abortion won't have any effect on the sexual mores of America or on marriage.

Open your eyes and look around.

5. Legal abortion is necessary because otherwise we'd have too many single mothers and children born into poverty.

Open your eyes and look around.

Nearly everything Americans were told about legalizing abortion in the late 1960s and early 1970s leading up to Roe v. Wade is now exposed as a lie.   What today is the case for having abortion be legal?  Choice?   The same liberals who think women's choices are paramount won't allow people in New York to drink sodas they think are too big.   A right to privacy?   The same liberals who think a woman's decisions on abortion are private are perfectly happy with the government knowing all of our other private medical information through Obamacare.

Kathryn Jean Lopez has a nice article out about the case in which she says this:

"A culture that has distanced itself from the cross — the redemptive infusion of meaning to our suffering — convinces itself that abortion is a necessary solution to a problem. And by doing so we deny women and mothers and men their dignity. We pretend that there is new life for an individual through the death of another."

Exactly so.  

Girl of the Day - Margaret Sullavan

It's Margaret Sullavan's birthday.   She led a hard life, and died too young at 50; her family life was screwed up enough that her daughter ended up writing a memoir about it called Haywire.   And she starred in only a handful of movies.   But one of them was the classic The Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart, and that is what we remember.   Ars longa, vita brevis.

Lois Lerner's List of Lies

Kevin Williamson has a great article up at NRO about the "nine lies" of Lois Lerner, the IRS official who announced last Friday that the government had been targeting Tea Party groups.   Read the whole thing, but here's the money graph:

What we have, then, is this: Under a Democratic administration, the IRS was under pressure from Democratic elected officials to investigate political enemies of the Democratic party. The agency did so. Its commissioner lied to Congress about its doing so. When the inspector general’s report was about to make these abuses public, the agency staged a classic Washington Friday news rollout at a sleepy American Bar Association tax-law conference, hoping to minimize the bad publicity.
 

Tick-tock, tick-tock.   That's the clock ticking until we start drafting impeachment articles.




Eric Holder's Recusal and Why He Must Go Either Way

Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General, testified yesterday before the House of Representatives' Government Oversight Committee (Rep. Darrell Issa's committee) on the IRS and AP scandals and, according to reports, claimed "I don't know" in response to most questions.   Specifically with regard to the AP issue -- where the Department of Justice under his command obtained (probably illegally) the phone records of Associated Press reporters in an investigation of leaks from the White House -- Holder justified his lack of knowledge with the claim that he had "recused" himself from the case.

Only here's the thing.   He doesn't remember when he recused himself.   And he didn't put his recusal in writing.

Now, remember, THIS IS THE CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IN THE UNITED STATES.   And, THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE LAWYER FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
Presumably, then, he should, at a minimum be a competent lawyer.

No competent lawyer who has ever been anywhere near a courtroom would "recuse" himself from a case without putting it in writing.   A judge who recuses himself from a case puts that fact on the record through a statement in open court transcribed by his court reporter, or else issues a written order to that effect that is placed in the docket for the case in question.   A lawyer or law firm that has to withdraw from a case because of a conflict of interest or because the lawyer might be a fact witness in the case (probably the more appropriate term for what Holder did here), would also always always always put it in writing.   This would be the bare minimum for what we call "practice hygiene" -- the stuff we do to make sure that we don't get in trouble with the judge, with the ethics office, or with a malpractice complaint.

But we're supposed to believe that Holder can't remember when he did his off-the-record verbal recusal.   (Or perhaps it was a mental recusal?   Holder seems to leave that bizarre door open too.)

I call bullshit.

Holder can't have it both ways.   Either he knew all about the AP wiretaps, in which case he needs to resign; or else he knew nothing about them because he "recused" himself, but he's so incompetent he didn't put it in writing.   In which case he needs to resign too.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

IRS Scandal Metastasizes

From Townhall, an evisceration of the key claims of the administration about the IRS scandal:

"Lower Level."   Officials within the highest echelons of the agency were aware of the inappropriate targeting, including the last two commissioners -- at least one of whom appears to have misled Congress on this very question. Now Politico reports that Lerner herself sent at least one of the probing letters to an Ohio-based conservative group.

The director of the Internal Revenue Service division under fire for singling out conservative groups sent a 2012 letter under her name to one such group, POLITICO has learned. The March 2012 letter was sent to the Ohio-based American Patriots Against Government Excess (American PAGE) under the name of Lois Lerner, the director of the Exempt Organizations Division...at the time of the letter, the group was in the midst of the application process for tax-exempt nonprofit status — a process that would stretch for nearly three years and involve queries for detailed information on its social media activity, its organizational set-up, bylaws, membership and interactions with political officials. The letter threatened to close American PAGE’s case file unless additional information was received within 60 days.

These burdensome requests were apparently designed to bury the victimized groups in paperwork. Carol reported last night that some 58 percent of these applicants were asked for unnecessary information and data, according to the Inspector General's review. Some inquiries asked for screenshots of organizations' Facebook posts and even lists of what books (!) its members were reading.

"No Political Bias" - This claim was laughable on its face from the start, in light of the agency's surreal criteria for added scrutiny and the "red flag" words and phrases that triggered investigations. Now add to the mix this scoop from USA Today:

In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked. That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn't be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months. In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows. As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months. With names including words like "Progress" or "Progressive," the liberal groups applied for the same tax status and were engaged in the same kinds of activities as the conservative groups.

Lerner also reportedly fast-tracked an approval for a foundation operated by President Obama's half brother, taking the extraordinary step of granting it retroactive tax-free status.


The combination of this being the IRS, the intrusions into privacy (especially the note about demanding their reading lists!), and the patent unfairness of conservative groups getting the red-tape run-around while liberal groups -- including the President's own "Organizing for America" mega-group -- sail through in record time, makes this a scandal with a lot of legs.   When you add in the lying of IRS senior personnel (Lerner herself), lying to Congress by the former Commissioner, suspicions about leaks of Romney tax information during the campaign, and what you have is a wide field of inquiry for a special prosecutor, who needs to be appointed quickly.

Watergate Articles of Impeachment and Where We Stand Now

Here are the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon in 1974.   Let's compare them to where we are now with Obama.

ARTICLE 1 - obstruction of justice in impeding the investigation of the Watergate burglary, including "approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to giving false or misleading statements... and false or misleading testimony"; "making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States"; and "endeavouring to cause prospective defendants... to expect favoured treatment and consideration in return for their silence."

With regard to Benghazi, I think we're there already.   False statements to Congress and the public?   Check.   Effectively promising favoured treatment to those who play ball -- and punishing those like Greg Hicks who rock the boat?   Check.   We're learning more about the IRS scandal every day, but it sure looks like we're past the false statements to Congress and the public step there too.


ARTICLE 2 - violating constitutional rights of citzens, including by obtaining confidential IRS tax information about private citizens and causing income tax audits or income tax investigations to be "conducted in a discriminatory manner."  

Ahem.   That cuts pretty close to home, doesn't it?   It almost sounds like you could just cut and paste "Barack Obama" into the article and move forward.   

ARTICLE 3 - failing to produce papers in response to lawful subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee.

We're going to be there pretty soon, if we're not already there, when the House starts demanding the President's emails, records of his whereabouts and activities on the night of 9/11/12, etc.

I'm not saying that Obama will be impeached.   He's not as hated by the Right as Nixon was by the Left, and he doesn't have an oppositional mainstream media to contend with.   I'm just saying that the support for impeaching Nixon in 1974 is not that much different from what could be martialed against Obama in 2013.  

If Obama Has Lost Jon Stewart...


Girl of the Day - Meadow Soprano!

As Mad Men seems to be in the process of going down a dead end street, my admiration for
The Sopranos deepens.   David Chase kept it going at a very high level until the very end.   Can Matthew Weiner get back to that level and do the same?   I doubt it.

Anyway, it's Jamie Lynn Sigler's 32nd birthday today, so The Sopranos was on my mind for some reason:


Monday, May 13, 2013

Media Confusion

The liberal media is very confused right now.   How should they report huge stories that cut against their most fondly held beliefs... that abortion on demand at any time is a sacred right, and that Obama is the untouchable high priest of 21st century liberalism?

On the first, here is how CNN reported the conviction of abortionist Kermit Gosnell:

A jury Monday found a Philadelphia abortion provider guilty of three counts of first-degree murder. 
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, was accused of killing babies by using scissors to cut their spinal cords.  
Authorities alleged that some of the infants were born alive and viable during the sixth, seventh and eighth months of pregnancy. 
Monday's first-degree murder conviction means Gosnell, who is not a board-certified obstetrician or gynecologist, could be sentenced to death.
 
Interesting.   Look at the grammar and syntax.   Gosnell was found guilty of murder.   But in the next sentence he is only "accused of killing babies."   And in the next sentence authorites only "alleged that some of the infants were born alive."   You could get the impression by reading this that the murder convictions were unrelated to those allegations, when the truth is that he was convicted of killing babies who had been born alive.   Those are no longer "accusations" or "allegations".... they are facts found by the trier of fact, the jury of his peers in a Philadelphia courtroom.  

The New York Times' reporting is even more egregious.   It's like Martians have landed and the Times reporters are trying to translate information that is so outside of the paradigms of their experience as to be alien:

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a West Philadelphia doctor known for performing late-term abortions, was found guilty on Monday on three of four counts of first-degree murder.         
The verdict came after a five-week trial in which the prosecution and the defense battled over whether the fetuses Dr. Gosnell was charged with killing were alive when they were removed from their mothers.
 
They simply can't bring themselves to use the correct English word for "fetuses... alive when they were removed from their mothers."    Where I come from (America) we like to call those...

BABIES!

Sheesh!

***

Meanwhile, on the IRS/Benghazi scandal watch, I have to admit a pleasant surprise that my least-favorite columnist, the Times' ultra-liberal, overripe Ivy League sorority girl, Maureen Dowd, actually had the honesty to lay into Obama over the weekend:

Welcome to a glorious spring weekend of accusation and obfuscation as Hillaryland goes up against Foxworld.         
The toxic theatrics, including Karl Rove’s first attack ad against Hillary, cloud a simple truth: The administration’s behavior before and during the attack in Benghazi, in which four Americans died, was unworthy of the greatest power on earth.         
After his Libyan intervention, President Obama knew he was sending diplomats and their protectors into a country that was no longer a country, a land rife with fighters affiliated with Al Qaeda.         
Yet in this hottest of hot spots, the State Department’s minimum security requirements were not met, requests for more security were rejected, and contingency plans were not drawn up, despite the portentous date of 9/11 and cascading warnings from the C.I.A....
In the midst of a re-election campaign, Obama aides wanted to promote the mythology that the president who killed Osama was vanquishing terror. So they deemed it problematic to mention any possible Qaeda involvement in the Benghazi attack.         
Looking ahead to 2016, Hillaryland needed to shore up the mythology that Clinton was a stellar secretary of state. Prepared talking points about the attack included mentions of Al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan militant group, but the State Department got those references struck. Foggy Bottom’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, a former Cheney aide, quashed a we-told-you-so paragraph written by the C.I.A. that said the spy agency had “produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to Al Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya,” and had warned about five other attacks “against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British ambassador’s convoy.”
 
Pretty tough stuff from an unlikely source.   If I were reading between the lines, I might say that the mainstream media is trying to get out ahead of some really really bad revelations that they may know are coming just around the corner for the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton.

Pete Kozma and Ozzie Smith






























I know... sacrilege.   Mentioning the Cardinals' rookie shortstop in the same breath as the Cardinals' Hall-of-Fame shortstop.   I can hear the screams now....






But hear me out.

  • Pete Kozma's current fielding percentage?   .994. 
  • Ozzie Smith's best year for fielding percentage.... .987.
  • Pete Kozma's current pace for errors for the season... 4.
  • Ozzie Smith's fewest errors in a season... 8.
  • Pete Kozma's current pace for double plays for the season... 112.
  • Ozzie Smith's best year for double plays in a season... 111.

To be sure, Ozzie had better range.   Or so we think.   And the "range factor" numbers bear that out... he had a career range factor of 5.2, meaning he had 5.2 total chances per game, where Kozma only has 4.6 per game this year.   So some might argue that Ozzie was getting to an extra ball every other game or so and turning it into an out. 

Well, maybe.   But remember... you can only field what the batter hits.   Against the Cardinals pitching staff of the mid-1980s, a lot more balls were getting put in play.   The 1985 Cards, for instance, with the likes of John Tudor and Joaquin Andujar as their aces, averaged only a little under 5 strikeouts per nine innings.   The current staff is averaging over 8 strikeouts per nine innings.   That's three fewer chances per game for the fielders to make plays.   Does that artificially lower Kozma's supposed "range factor"?   You bet it does.  Right now Kozma's range factor is sixth in the majors among qualified shortstops.   In a strikeout happy era of baseball, he's got plenty of "range."

Now, I'm not saying that Kozma is the second coming of Ozzie Smith.   I'm just saying that, through the first month and a half of the season he is easily fielding well enough that his lack of hitting so far doesn't really matter.   And I think Mike Matheny and John Mozeliak know that.

Would I like to see Troy Tulowitzki in the Birds on the Bat jersey?   Sure.   Would I trade Carlos Martinez and Oscar Tavarez for him and then pay him $20 million a year until he's 37?   Not a chance.

Gosnell Verdict

The verdict in the trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell is in.   He has been found guilty of 1st degree intentional homicide in the murders of three babies born alive in his abortion abbatoir.   He is now eligible for the death penalty.   I do not think he will get it and, even if they were to condemn him to death, he won't be executed, given his age and the likelihood of years and years and perhaps decades of appeals.

I am gratified that our society remains even to this degree civilized -- that you cannot kill an innocent baby born alive simply because a few moments earlier the mother had decided to "abort" him (or her).   We will become truly civilized when we conclude that the distinction between a moment before and a moment after live birth, and an inch outside the womb rather than inside, are distinctions without a difference.   A baby is a baby.  Murder is murder.

Distinguishing Five Scandals

I had forgotten about a number of Obama administration scandals until I did an Internet search and found this website.    While extrajudicial targeting of an American citizen abroad for assasination by drone strike might end up the worst when historians look back in 100 years, there seem to be five big Obama scandals that have any chance of capturing the public's attention.   As a public service, I'm going to reduce each of them to a single phrase, which is how they are going to have to be portrayed to the American public if they are going to have any legs.

1. Pigford.   Billion-dollar federal slush fund for fake minority "farmers."

2. Benghazi.   Presidential cowardice and coverup in the face of terrorist murders of four Americans.

3. Fast and Furious.   Federal government gun-running resulting in hundreds of dead Mexicans.

4. Solyndra.   Massive payoffs to Obama cronies concealed as "loans" to Potemkin "clean energy" companies.

5. IRS and Tea Party Patriots.   Politically targeted harassment from the least-likable government agency during an election season.

If I had to select the one's with the most legs, I would say Benghazi and the IRS scandal.   The others are two complicated, and the connections back to Obama too tenuous.   For Benghazi you could say, however unfairly, that Obama went to sleep during the attack, and went to Las Vegas the day after.   For the IRS scandal, however unfairly, you could point to Obama's joke back in 2009 that he would have political opponents audited.

Incompetent.

Lying.

Corrupt.

Nasty.

The picture is coming into focus for the American people.

Mad Men in Shark-Infested Waters

Mad Men hasn't quite jumped the shark yet, but it's getting close.   I don't have time for a lengthy dissertation, but to put it bluntly, it's got two main problems, one involving the writing, and one involving the casting, neither of which is solvable at this late date, and perhaps both of which were inevitable.

Writing

As to the writing, for a long time now it's been evident that Matthew Weiner envisions Don Draper as his version of Tony Soprano (Weiner made his writing bones on The Sopranos).   We are supposed to watch the arc of his life and anticipate his death or, at best, his destruction.  

But Tony Soprano was always watchable and fascinating because he was always from the outset a nasty sociopath criminal, so we were surprised by moments of humanity with his family, and we wanted to see if he was redeemable, even though we knew he probably wasn't.    Draper is becoming increasingly unwatchable for the opposite reason -- he was sold to us as a dashing leading man type, but we are now compelled to watch him increasingly become a nasty sociopath with little human connection to his wife or children (or anyone, really).  

Wondering whether the Devil can be saved is interesting.   Watching a man we thought was heroic go to Hell isn't... it's frankly kind of depressing.   Thus last night's episode where Don indulges in some creepy sex play with his mistress, Sylvia Rosen (Linda Cardellini), was almost unbearable.   I had to turn away.

Casting

Now for the casting problem.   This is somewhat inevitable, and Weiner is actually pretty obviously conscious of this and making an effort to make it into a thematic aspect of the show -- 7-8 years later, Jon Hamm just doesn't look the same.   He was male-model handsome when the show began, and he's still handsome, but he's also obviously 40-something now, and getting (as we all do), jowlier.   He doesn't obviously seem, just by being gorgeous, to be cooler than everyone anymore.   He's this guy now:


























Okay, not bad.   A good-looking 40 year-old man.   And Hamm can play Draper as a guy the years are catching up to... too many late nights, too much booze.   OK, I get it.   But, still, he's not this guy:




































This guy I would watch do anything because he's beautiful.   The other guy?   He looks like too many middle-aged lawyers in my firm.  

***

In a way the writing problem and the casting problem are the same problem... the central character is no longer the magnetic sexual beast he was at the beginning.   Now he's becoming a creepy middle-aged dude who should grow up already.   The kind of guy you wouldn't really like to have around.

So why watch?

Why Drudge Still Rocks II


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coincidence?

The White House press room had to be evacuated today for an hour because of a smoke incident.

Hmmm... if I wanted to get a look at the types of notes the White House press had taken in yesterday's "deep background" meeting about Benghazi, and/or get a quick look at White House press laptops, I might stage something like this.

I'm just sayin'.

Quick Thoughts on the IRS Scandal

The IRS admitted yesterday that its Cincinnati office had targeted 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations for audits where the words "tea party" or "patriot" appeared in their names.   In other words, they were using the power of government to harass political opponents.  The IRS claims that this was just "local" personnel.   But Cincinnati is the central IRS hub responsible for all 501(c)(4) organizations in the country, so that line of excuse shouldn't wash.   Moreover:

What state is Cincinnati in?

Ohio.

What state was the most important for the Obama campaign to win in 2012?

Ohio.

Where would it be most useful to the Obama campaign to tie up staff and funds of conservative activist groups in 2012?

Ohio.

Hmmmmm.....

***

Also...  why release the story on Friday?  
The Friday before Mother's Day weekend.
During a week where there were a lot of competing news stories: Benghazi, Jodi Arias, the Cleveland kidnapping.

Hmmmm....

***

Also... this is the same Obama campaign that had a major theme of demanding to see Mitt Romney's tax returns, which are supposedly private.

Does anybody really believe that an administration that sicced the IRS on its political opponents wouldn't violate the privacy of Mitt Romney and steal a look at his tax returns, see something in there they could use, and then gin up a controversy about why Romney won't release them?

Scoundrels.

Friday, May 10, 2013

"Scrubbed" and the Smoking Gun

ABC News reports that the Benghazi talking points went through twelve versions in which the Obama Administration scrubbed the document of any reference to al Qaeda or terrorism or the warnings the Administration:

When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story. 
ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack. 
White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
 
The smoking gun in the story is an email from Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's spokesperson:

State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”
The paragraph was entirely deleted.
 
This is almost the definition of a cover-up... government officials deliberately obscuring facts that would make their own conduct look bad.

Benghazi and Election '12 - Romney's Lost Opportunity

There was compelling testimony on Wednesday in Congress by three American career State Department officials that went a long way toward demonstrating that the Obama Administration had been derelict in their duties regarding the Benghazi consulate attack by (a) not beefing up security in the months before 9/11/12; not beefing up security specifically in anticipation of 9/11/12; (c) not having rapid response military and air ready to go in reaction to any terrorist attack on Mediterranean consulates; and (d) not reacting in real time to send help on 9/11/12.  

The testimony also was compelling that there was a coverup of what happened in Benghazi, through editing of intelligence, through misleading "talking points," through intimidation of witnesses.   Given the misfeasance described above, the malfeasance of the coverup makes sense.   With Obama's 2012 election on the line, and with Hillary Clinton's 2016 prospects in jeopardy, the administration would literally say anything, do anything.

Some of this was not known in the fall of 2012 in the weeks leading up to the election.  But the basics obviously were.   Four dead Americans.   The first ambassador in 30 years to be killed.   The fecklessness of the President and the Secretary of State.

Why didn't Mitt Romney hit Obama with an ad like this (which was apparently in the can)?



***

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan has a good piece up at the WSJ. Here's the money quote:

What happened in Benghazi last Sept. 11 and 12 was terrible in every way. The genesis of the scandal? It looks to me like this:  
The Obama White House sees every event as a political event. Really, every event, even an attack on a consulate and the killing of an ambassador.  
Because of that, it could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications, and demand certain actions. And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away, or at least to bleed the meaning from it.  
Because the White House could not tolerate the idea of Benghazi as a planned and deliberate terrorist assault, it had to be made into something else. So they said it was a spontaneous street demonstration over an anti-Muhammed YouTube video made by a nutty California con man. After all, that had happened earlier in the day, in Cairo. It sounded plausible.
 
Noonan is right on the mark that the Obama White House sees everything through a political lens.   You could say the same thing about Hillary Clinton.   Just as Obama is all about Obama, the Clintons are all about the Clintons, and always have been.  

But I would add this:   we have too many lawyers at the highest levels of government.   They tend to see everything in an adversarial posture, where they are looking at every issue in terms of whether it helps or hurts their "client," the President.   Thus you get scrubbed talking points massaged by the lawyers to minimize the risk to their client.   They read like interrogatory responses... purposefully incomplete and vague.

The problem, of course, is that the lawyers in the government have a conflict of interest.   They think of their jobs as serving their client, the President.   But the President isn't their client... the American people is the client.