Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cruising the Web

Virginia Toensing listened to Hillary Clinton disavow responsibility for providing security at the Benghazi consulate when she said that she wasn't approving or denying such requests for added security. And Toensing points out that there was a law passed in 1999 after the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania requiring the Secretary of State to take an active role in providing security to our personnel abroad.
Congress quickly agreed and passed Secca, a law implementing these (and other) recommendations. It mandated that the secretary of state make a personal security waiver under two circumstances: when the facility could not house all the personnel in one place and when there was not a 100-foot setback. The law also required that the secretary "may not delegate" the waiver decision.

Benghazi did not house all U.S. personnel in one building. There was the consulate and an annex, one of the two situations requiring a non-delegable security waiver by the secretary of state.
So if Hillary didn't play any role in approving or denying security to our consulate in Benghazi, she was disregarding her legal responsibilities. But with this administration, should that surprise anyone that they act as if legal regulations don't apply to them?

Edward Morrissey explains why no one is buying the IRS's story about the destroyed hard drives that are preventing them from delivering emails related to the IRS scandal from key participants in the scandal, especially Lois Lerner.
The claim that the IRS recycles its backup tapes every six months is equally ludicrous. The federal government has more strict expectations for publicly held corporations. Sarbanes-Oxley regulations passed more than a decade ago specifically require retention of email data for five years, and make the kind of destruction claimed by the IRS in this instance a crime punishable by 20 years in prison.

The IRS claim raised eyebrows at the National Archives and Records Administration, which is tasked with preserving important federal records, calling itself "concerned" that a hard drive failure would wipe out two years worth of what should be permanent records. The IRS's own manual made it clear that the storage of email was important enough to have permanent backups of their data. "IRS offices will not store the official recordkeeping copy of email messages that are federal records ONLY on the electronic mail system," and even went so far as to require hard copies "for record-keeping purposes."

This gives the scandal new and legitimate legs, for a couple of reasons. First, despite having demanded these records from the IRS for over a year, the agency waited until now (and in a Friday afternoon document dump, no less) to inform Congress of the supposed loss of emails. That makes it look very suspicious, and put together with Lerner's refusal to testify, even more so.

The second reason is that the IRS is the one agency that demands everyone else keep spotless records for seven years or more on their returns. Now we find out that they're only keeping their own documentation for six months? For a nation founded on the rule of law and equality under it, this retention for thee but no for we will likely offend a lot more people than extra scrutiny for conservative tax-exempt applicants did, and the lame dog ate my homework excuse will offend the rest.

Sadly, the rule of law seems to be the biggest fantasy of all in the case of the IRS targeting scandal and the abuse of power it represents.

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel journalist excoriates the nothingburger of an article that the New Republic came up with and slapped the title, "The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker" that was supposed to expose the toxic racial political scene in Milwaukee from which Walker emerged.
What new information could TNR have unearthed that would describe the "poisonous, racially divided world" that produced Walker's tenure as Wisconsin governor?

As it turns out, the article doesn't remotely live up to its click-baiting headline, "The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker." (Ann Althouse has been following the various incantations of the "scurrilous" article's headline, which at one point was "Scott Walker is So Hot Right Now.")

The first reason is self-evident: Walker doesn't seem to be all that "unelectable," given that he has won two gubernatorial elections. And he is so toxically Caucasian that he was elected to the position of county executive three times in Milwaukee County, where two-thirds of all the state's African-Americans reside.

As I read through the article, I kept waiting for a single example of Walker's "toxic racial politics" and found exactly none. This is like going to a movie called "Godzilla," only to find out that it's a Keira Knightley Victorian era period piece.
There's a lot in the article about Milwaukee, but not so much about Scott Walker beyond recounting the story of Walker's confrontations over the laws to reduce the power of the public employees' unions. Read Ann Althouse who has been blogging about TNR's cover story. She writes,
I have now read the long article, and the closest thing to anything racial coming directly from Scott Walker is his support over the years for voter ID laws. Much of the article is about the demographics of Milwaukee and the suburban counties around it, including the history — going back into the early 20th century — of how black people migrated to the city and did not — as white people did — relocate into the suburbs.

Milwaukee is an extreme example of this historical pattern, but Scott Walker didn't make this happen, and given that Scott Walker built his political career in the Milwaukee area, it's actually impressive that TNR could not find racial incidents and slips to pin on him.