Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cruising the Web

How naive do IRS officials believe we are when they try to tell us that they singled out conservative groups, delaying approval of their tax exempt status, often past the election, and causing several groups to drop their application altogether, but that there was no political bias involved? As Rich Lowry writes,
In March 2012 congressional testimony, then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman repeatedly denied any targeting of conservatives. Evidently, no one who knew about it did his or her boss the favor of telling him that he had to tell Congress. In fact, the IRS didn’t reveal its inadvertent targeting of conservatives that it didn’t in any way support or condone until the Friday before the scheduled release of a report on the matter by the Treasury inspector general. This is how an agency with a guilty conscience behaves.

Michael Walsh enjoys some schadenfreude.

The Department of Justice thinks that finding the source of leaks justified an overbroad spying on the telephone records of AP, but then they were quite happy to leak some national security information if it would make Obama look good. As Victor Davis Hanson reminds us,
After all, we remember not long ago that critical information leaked about the so-called Stuxnet virus that harmed the Iranian centrifuges; we remember leaks describing how the president, in philosophical angst about the drone killings, turned to Aquinas for solace; and we remember that leaks told us that the always-on-the-job Obama administration had a so-called double agent that exposed a plot in Yemen. In addition, we learned of the heroic but classified details of the Obama-ordered bin Laden raid.

In other words, when the Obama administration wants the public to appreciate its unheralded and successful accomplishments, it leaks classified information that imperils national security (did the Taliban really need to know the precise units and their methodology of operation that took out bin Laden?) — and leaks so much that former defense secretary Bob Gates is said to have been reduced to threatening John Brennan with “shut the f*** up!”

....Ditto the televised dramatics of the Obama team huddled around consoles as they saw the raid against bin Laden unfold in real time — a photo opportunity not repeated when live feeds from Benghazi began coming in about the al-Qaeda attacks. Certainly, that evening when Americans were on the defensive rather than the offensive, nobody deemed it necessary to bring in the photographers to capture the Obama team in mediis rebus. Translated into Animal Farm terms: All leaks bad — except some. All hands-on-operations are televised — unless they go badly. Give classified information to reporters — if they are cooperative.

Hugh Hewitt wonders why Hillary Clinton never called Gregory Hicks back after hearing from him about the assault on the Benghazi consulate and his decision to evacuate the embassy in Tripoli.

The Obama administration prosecutes oil companies when birds are killed at their operations, but ignores wind farms when they kill birds. Over 573,000 birds are killed by wind farms every year yet all they get are huge tax breaks and government subsidies. Yet Exxon Mobil had to pay a $600,000 fine for killing 85 birds in five states. Some dead birds are worth more than others.

Does America need a foreign policy? Does Obama?

Jason Riley asks why, if having teachers of the same race as minority students is so important, why do Asians do so well when there are so few Asian teachers?

Jay Carney used to be a well-respected journalist at Time Magazine. I wonder what Carney the journalist would think about the lame efforts of Carney the White House spokesman.

We now have decisive evidence that China is directing cyber attacks at US intelligence agencies.

The boom in North American energy is sending "ripples throughout the world."

Nancy Pelosi calls John Boehner "the weakest Speaker in history" because he hasn't passed anything without the votes of Democrats. Isn't that what those who call for bipartisanship are always asking for? If she were Speaker with the Senate and White House held by Republicans, would she think that her goal was to push through bills with only Democratic support that would then die in conference committee? So for her, partisanship would trump actually accomplishing anything. And yet Obama thinks it is only the Republicans' fault that we have gridlock in Washington.

One lesson from this confluence of scandals is, as Glenn Reynolds writes, that everyone should realize why we should not put so much faith in government. And Chris Cillizza hits the same theme.
The cumulative weight of the series of stories, of course, is, potentially, the most dangerous thing of all for the Obama Administration. Group Benghazi, the IRS and the AP into a single narrative and it reads something like this: The government knows better than you. As a result, the government can do whatever it likes.
And yet we're supposed to be copacetic with this same government managing our health care.

Politico writes that this scandalpalooza allows conservatives to make the exact argument that Reynolds and Cillizza (not a conservative) are making.
Obama’s critics now have a narrative — a way of connecting four discrete episodes to a larger point about this president’s leadership style and values. In other words, they didn’t merely happen on his watch but were in important ways caused by his watch.
And for the first time, this anti-Obama storyline is being presented in a way that might seem reasonable to people who are not already rabid anti-Obama partisans.

The narrative is personal. The uproars over alleged politicization of the IRS and far-reaching attempts to monitor journalists and their sources have not been linked directly to Obama. But it does not strain credulity to suggest that Obama’s well-known intolerance for leaks, and his regular condemnations of conservative dark-money groups, could have filtered down to subordinates.

The narrative is ideological. For five years, this president has been making the case that a growing and activist government has good intentions and can carry these intentions out with competence. Conservatives have warned that government is dangerous, and even good intentions get bungled in the execution. In different ways, the IRS uproar, the Justice Department leak investigations, the Benghazi tragedy and the misleading attempts to explain it, and the growing problems with implementation of health care reform all bolster the conservative worldview....

In Obama’s case, the narrative emerging from this tumultuous week goes something like this: None of these messes would have happened under a president less obsessed with politics, less insulated within his own White House and less trusting of government as an institution.
James Madison and Thomas Jefferson had a lot to say about what we're observing now.

Bubbling along beneath all the attention being paid to the Benghazi, IRS, and the AP scandals, there is also the story of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius soliciting donations from the same health-care industries that her department has so much power over. Senator Lamar Alexander reminds us that this is against the law and violates the Constitution.

What a surprise: the CBO estimates that Obamacare costs over the next decade are double what Obama told us they would be.

Doesn't anyone in government get fired these days?

Liberals who argue that they pay attention to science while conservatives ignore scientific truth should look to all the scientific research they prefer to ignore.

The politicizing of the IRS goes way back. I hadn't realized that JFK was using the IRS to target conservative groups and companies who didn't cooperate with the Kennedy administration. And it was news to me that members of Congress in the 1990s could request the IRS to expedite audits of their political opponents.

Apparently, humankind will survive only if women control the world or something.

Oh, the UN continually strains to prove how ridiculous and useless it is: Iran is going to preside over a UN arms control forum. Apparently, the UN has no collective sense of irony.