Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Obama's Guys Screw The Pooch

Outrage is everywhere. It is rolling through the streets of Washington D.C, the halls of news agencies, and the back offices of tea party hacks like some monster tsunami let loose by a cataclysmic seismic event.

Suddenly everyone is looking to take heads and the Obama administration is reeling under the weight of three different scandals that could derail the president's entire second term agenda.

First is the Benghazi issue. It is the least of Obama's worries and currently the most pressing one for Hillary Rodham Clinton. The tragedy that befell the American consulate in Lybia didn't gain the traction the Romney wanks hoped it would during the last days of the presidential campaign, especially after their man mis-stepped so badly in the debates. In fact the whole terrible affair was seemingly fading from view until it became obvious to everyone on the right that Mrs. Clinton was off and running for the white house in 2016. Suddenly it flared back up like a hot spot in a smouldering house as all manner of republicans sought to link her to it, blame her for it, and practically claim she planned the entire attack herself. Make no mistake about it, the republicans are using the deaths of four Americans as a pre-emptive strike on Mrs. Clinton's aspirations for the white house. This is the wrench they are going to use to try to jam up her election bid.

Then comes the Internal Revenue Service. It is the one agency everyone in the country hates. It initially appeared the targeting of right wing non profit groups began with some low level bureaucrats in Ohio. However later evidence has come to light that the investigations were known of and approved by supervisory people. In other words, management.

This is the sort of bull shit you would expect from Dick Nixon, or maybe even Lyndon Johnson. You know the pooch has been screwed when the media liberals on MSNBC can't do anything, but sputter about past crimes committed by the IRS against civil rights organizations. Such protests are the last line of defense when actions are indefensible. It is the, "they did it first," argument which you should really stop using once you've grown too old for afternoon recess at Thomas E. Dewey Elementary School.

Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post Writers Group pointed out today that there are inherent problems with political non profits and have been since the supreme court's Citizens United ruling. That was the one which let loose upon the land a plague of action committees who could hide the names of donors, the amounts individuals or corporations contributed and could spend money like drunken sailors on leave in support of which ever candidate they choose. The IRS has been letting these groups slide just so long as, in theory, less than 50% of the money they took in was spent on partisan activities. The majority of bucks had to be spent on, "promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the community."

Right--in the last presidential campaign the largest non-profit was Karl Rove's "Crossroads GPS." There can be no doubt his idea of "promoting the common good and general welfare of the community" is a tad different than most of us. However, until something changes, like the IRS relentlessly looking into non-profit political groups both left and right, or those groups are outlawed completely, which is the real answer, it will be easy and in this case, correct, to charge bias.

Then, just to make sure everyone is alienated, the Department of Justice secretly took a look at the phone records of just about anyone employed by the Associated Press in the spring of 2012. It was all, according to the DOJ, in an effort to crack down on leaks to the press which have been the bane of this administration from what seems like day one. Apparently the murky goings on included looking at incoming and outgoing calls and their duration. The investigation wasn't limited to just work phones. It included personal ones as well and even the AP phones located in the House of Representatives gallery.

Interestingly, while every journalist in America is, "shocked, shocked," many in the GOP seem a bit muted. There is a reason for it. Salon quotes Texas republican senator, John Cornyn as saying, "I don't want to jump to judgement here because many of us did call on the administration to investigate leaks." In the same article John McCain is reported to have said, "I want to see the details--what was their rationale, why did they do it--before offering an opinion." Yes, it is tough to scream foul when you were the ones asking for the foul to be committed.

Don't worry though, eventually the GOP will find a way. They've never let me down on things like this in the past.

If you throw out the Benghazi furor there are two fundamentals here. One, it was wrong. I don't like Karl Rove, or any of those racist tea party bobble heads, but that doesn't mean you can target them specifically for IRS investigations. People like Nixon have enemies lists and act on them. Democrats need to be better than that. We should be a party of laws, rather than one of crass vindictiveness and institutionalized chicanery. In short, many of us prefer being the good guys.

Secondly, as my old high school football coach once told me, "You don't commit clipping just because it is against the rules. You don't clip because it hands the other team fifteen yards and puts our offense in a hole." Indeed, morals aside, the IRS nonsense especially has just given every ultra conservative loon in America a legitimate reason to storm through the streets with torches afire and pitchforks gleaming in the flickering light. They can now scream to the high heavens about the threat of an over reaching government and, for the moment anyway, they'll be right.

There is no telling how high up this goes, but ultimately the buck stops with the president. Under his watch these past few weeks the unthinkable has come to pass. People actually feel sorry for the tea party twits and suddenly they don't seem as crazy as they have sounded, or are. And finally, because the press feels they have been wronged none of this shit is going away anytime soon.

Good luck, Mr. President. Getting any sort of progressive legislation passed in the next three and a half years was going to be a titanic struggle to begin with. Now, thanks to your guys, it might have just become impossible.


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