Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cruising the Web

Yes, the Obama administration has an enemies list.

I hadn't realized the IRS rule preventing charitable organizations from endorsing or opposing a political candidate entered our system because Lyndon Johnson wanted to stifle independent groups that opposed his reelection as senator.

Lois Lerner of the IRS has a history of harassing religious organizations about their beliefs and practices from back in her time as head of the Enforcement Office at the FEC. She is going to take the Fifth to refuse to answer questions about the IRS targeting of conservative groups. But she cannot take the Fifth for her practices at the FEC so perhaps the congressional committee members stymied from getting information from her about the IRS might ask her why she took it on herself to direct questions to the Christian Coalition and Oliver North about whether or not Pat Robertson was praying for Oliver North as part of an investigation under the Federal Election Campaign Act. Reading the transcript of the questions that the FEC under Lerner's direction were asking about the content of an individual's prayers is truly chilling and reminiscent of the sorts of questions that the IRS was asking of conservative pro-life groups.

Another day, more Pinocchios for the administration's attempts to push back on the Benghazi story.

Jay Leno manages to ridicule both the media and the Obama administration in one skit.

Noah Rothman of Mediate predicts that the media will erupt now that we have learned how extensively the Department of Justice has been abusing its subpoena power to intimidate both the AP and James Rosen of Fox News.
The Obama administration dares the press to respond to these provocations in a traditional, adversarial fashion. This White House has taken the support they enjoyed from the press corps during Obama’s first term for granted. Today, the media simmers, having been dismissed as a potent force capable of holding this White House accountable, eager to demonstrate just how effective they are.

The White House has greatly underestimated the press and their reverence for the sacred function they perform in a healthy democracy. The political media’s admiration for the president, someone who largely shares their philosophy and pedigree, is a pale shadow in comparison to the esteem with which they hold their own institution.

A storm is coming for the Obama administration. There is no stronger animosity than the one born of spurned affection. Now legitimately mistreated and aggrieved, the press is coming for this White House.
I won't hold my breath, but I will treasure the irony that it was the administration's targeting of a Fox News reporter that may well be the straw that cools the media's love affair with Barack Obama.

And Dana Milbank is one journalist who finds the Obama administration's spying on James Rosen as a bridge too far.
But here’s why you should care — and why this case, along with the administration’s broad snooping into Associated Press phone records, is more serious than the other supposed Obama administration scandals regarding Benghazi and the Internal Revenue Service. The Rosen affair is as flagrant an assault on civil liberties as anything done by George W. Bush’s administration, and it uses technology to silence critics in a way Richard Nixon could only have dreamed of.

To treat a reporter as a criminal for doing his job — seeking out information the government doesn’t want made public — deprives Americans of the First Amendment freedom on which all other constitutional rights are based. Guns? Privacy? Due process? Equal protection? If you can’t speak out, you can’t defend those rights, either.

Beyond that, the administration’s actions shatter the president’s credibility and discourage allies who would otherwise defend the administration against bogus accusations such as those involving the Benghazi “talking points.” If the administration is spying on reporters and accusing them of criminality just for asking questions — well, who knows what else this crowd is capable of doing?

It is now clear that the direction of the Cincinnati office of the IRS was being directed by the Technical Unit in Washington. The intrusive questionnaire came from Washington. Eliana Johnson's report of how much of the direction of the IRS targeting came from the IRS offices in Washington, not Cincinnati as the IRS would like us to believe.

Jonah Goldberg points out that the administration's defense in all the scandals breaking around Obama is that the administration is incompetent and stupid.
Although there’s still a great deal to be learned about the scandals and controversies swirling around the White House like so many ominous dorsal fins in the surf, the nature of President Obama’s bind is becoming clear. The best defenses of his administration require undermining the rationale for his presidency.

“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots. It’s actually closer to us being idiots.” So far, this is the administration’s best defense.
The big problem with that defense is that it undermines the entire justification for the lightworker's presidency.
For Obama, the only things separating America from redemption are politics, specifically obstruction from unhinged Republicans and others clinging to outdated and vaguely illegitimate motives. Opposition to gun control is irrational because the “government is us.” Reject warnings “that tyranny is always lurking,” he told the graduating class at Ohio State, because a self-governing people cannot tyrannize themselves.

But, suddenly, when the administration finds itself ensnared by errors of its own making, the curtain is drawn back on the cult of expertise and the fantasy of statist redemption. Early on in the IRS scandal, before the agency’s initial lies were exposed, David Axelrod defended the administration on the grounds that the “government is so vast” the president “can’t know” what’s going on “underneath” him. Of course, it was Obama who once said, “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors.”

That is, when things are going relatively well. When scandal hits the fan, he goes from the “government is us” to talking of his own agencies the way a czar might dismiss an injustice in some Siberian backwater. The hubris of omnicompetence gives way to “lighten up, we’re idiots.”
They can't have it both ways, but they'll sure try. The government can do anything, except when bad things happen.

Philip Klein explains why the GOP's focus on Obama scandals won't explode in 2014 as their focus on Clinton's scandals hurt the Republicans in 1998.

The left thinks that they have proprietary ownership of the term "dog whistle."

How cozy that a liberal think tank was willing to sell out to General Motors and other businesses in order to support the Obama administration.

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