Friday, February 7, 2014

Republi-CON Political Opportunism and Hypocrisy

UPDATE IX:  The House Republi-cons met with Treasury inspector general J. Russell George, also a Republi-con, limited "the scope of his IRS review" to slant the finding of his investigation and "hide the fact that investigators found 'no indication that pulling these selected applications was politically motivated' or that progressive groups were also targeted.'"

Read the Washington Post, Two Democrats call for investigation of IRS watchdog who led targeting probe.

UPDATE VIII:  "Principal Deputy Commissioner Danny Werfel on Monday revealed that the IRS had used other "inappropriate" lists – and, according to documents released by (surprise!) congressional Democrats, the buzzwords included 'progressive,' 'Occupy' and 'Israel.' Part of the committee to defeat or impeach President Obama? Not so much, these sorts of groups. . .

This was not the IRS singling people out for audits or prosecution. This was a case of the agency tasked with determining tax status and compliance actually forcing groups to prove they are worthy of tax-free status as a 'social welfare' group."

Read U.S. News & World Report, The IRS-Tea Party Scandal Fizzles.

For more on the Republi-con problem with reality, re-read these prior posts:

More Partisan Zealotry Through Highly Selective Editing of Reality, and

Republi-CON Created Reality.

UPDATE VII:  From Ben Bernanke’s Baccalaureate Address at Princeton:

"[M]ost of our politicians and policymakers are trying to do the right thing, according to their own views and consciences, most of the time. If you think that the bad or indifferent results that too often come out of Washington are due to base motives and bad intentions, you are giving politicians and policymakers way too much credit for being effective. Honest error in the face of complex and possibly intractable problems is a far more important source of bad results than are bad motives."

UPDATE VI:  "When CVFC, a conservative veterans’ group in California, applied for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, its biggest expenditure that year was several thousand dollars in radio ads backing a Republican candidate for Congress.

The Wetumpka Tea Party, from Alabama, sponsored training for a get-out-the-vote initiative dedicated to the “defeat of President Barack Obama” while the I.R.S. was weighing its application.

And the head of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, whose application languished with the I.R.S. for more than two years, sent out e-mails to members about Mitt Romney campaign events and organized members to distribute Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign literature.

Representatives of these organizations have cried foul in recent weeks about their treatment by the I.R.S., saying they were among dozens of conservative groups unfairly targeted by the agency, harassed with inappropriate questionnaires and put off for months or years as the agency delayed decisions on their applications.

But a close examination of these groups and others reveals an array of election activities that tax experts and former I.R.S. officials said would provide a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review.

“Money is not the only thing that matters,” said Donald B. Tobin, a former lawyer with the Justice Department’s tax division who is a law professor at Ohio State University. “While some of the I.R.S. questions may have been overbroad, you can look at some of these groups and understand why these questions were being asked.”

The stakes are high for both the I.R.S. and lawmakers in Congress, whose election fortunes next year will hinge in no small part on a flood of political spending by such advocacy groups. They are often favored by strategists and donors not for the tax benefits — they typically do not have significant income subject to tax — but because they do not have to reveal their donors, allowing them to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into elections without disclosing where the money came from"

Read The New York Times, Groups Targeted by I.R.S. Tested Rules on Politics.

UPDATE V:  Obama is damned if he doesn't, and damned if he does.

"Before the outcry over the Obama administration’s leak investigations, Republicans complained that the administration wasn’t pursuing national security leaks vigorously enough. Last June, Republican Sens. John McCain, Saxby Chambliss, John Cornyn and Roger Wicker demanded the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate leaks because, they said, Attorney General Eric Holder wasn’t aggressive enough. “Any other administration, in my memory, Democrat or Republican, would have been absolutely apoplectic looking for the culprits, trying to find out who were the people that actually committed these criminal leaks,” Wicker said.

Republicans have been consistent on this point. During the George W. Bush administration, congressional Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) proposed shield laws to protect journalists from leak investigations. The Bush administration fought back. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell wrote that such proposals were “both unwise and unnecessary.” The Bush Justice Department even produced a Web site (now defunct) to campaign against a shield. (A shield law died in the Senate, another victim of a Republican-led filibuster.)"

Read the Washington Post, Scandals usually lead to reform. Maybe not this time.

UPDATE IV:  Republi-con 'contortions are reaching comic proportions.' 

They can't decide "whether the scandals show Obama as a power-mad Nixonian figure manipulating the levers of overbearing, intrusive government to realize sinister ends, or a weak bystander unable to control a government run amok."

Read the Washington Post,  Republicans struggle to connect IRS scandal to Obama

UPDATE III:  Not only did Republi-cons vote twice in the last two years to cut the State Department's embassy security budget, but they have also failed to disclose that the Ambassador "twice turned down offers of security assistance made by the senior U.S. military official in the region in response to concerns that [he] had raised in a still secret memorandum . . .

[Why the Ambassador] would turn down the offers remains unclear. The deteriorating security situation in Benghazi had been the subject of a meeting that embassy officials held Aug. 15, where they concluded they could not defend the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. The next day, the embassy drafted a cable outlining the dire circumstances and saying it would spell out what it needed in a separate cable."

The Republi-cons have been hiding that cable because it contradicts their 'con-scandal'. 

Read McClatchy, Ambassador Stevens twice said no to military offers of more security, U.S. officials say

UPDATE II:  "[S]tupid laws can create administrative chaos. The more I read about the scandal of the IRS and its scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, the more convinced I am that the blame for this mess -- just like the blame for my having to put down my tripod -- lies almost entirely with Congress.

Plainly, if IRS officials were systematically discriminating against conservative groups with the aim of harassing or suppressing them, that’s outrageous, not to mention criminal. If this was going on at the direction or with the knowledge of the White House, then the scandal rises, of course, to Watergate proportions. But there’s no evidence of any such system or conspiracy, and the idea seems improbable. What we do have, though, are tax laws so complex, and so muddled with the regulation of political spending, that straightforward enforcement is almost impossible."

Read Bloomberg, Sympathy for the IRS.  

UPDATE:  "What’s the real lesson of Benghazi? It’s that the party-aligned press works so well for Republicans that they’ve become too lazy to bother explaining their ideas, or doing the hard work of actual oversight. . .

Part of what’s happening is, as Jamelle Bouie pointed out today, the strong demand within the conservative marketplace for scandal. But there’s more than that; it’s not just a demand for scandal, but how easily the customers accept anything presented to them. The result — and Alex Pareene is very good on this today — is that they don’t bother putting together a 'coherent or convincing narrative.'"

Read the Washington Post, The real lesson of Benghazi.

Read also, The American Prospect, Demand-Side Scandals, which explains "[w]hy Republicans continue to manufacture controversies:

"Right-wing media has stoked huge demand for scandal among conservative consumers, but there isn’t a supply. And so, Republicans have had to create them, latching onto mistakes and ambiguities, and magnifying them into epic examples of administration misconduct."

And remember:  "there was a lot of concern about the thing that nobody [can] talk about, which was the CIA's role in Benghazi. Of the 30 Americans who were evacuated after the attack, approximately only seven of them worked for the State Department. The rest of them were working for the CIA."

Also, the Republi-cons, "who voted to cut funding for State Department security should understand that their philosophy — small government is always better — has consequences. Bureaucrats have to make judgment calls. Sometimes they will be wrong."

"Which makes more sense to you, that the State Department ignored requests for more security because the Obama campaign was running on the message that the administration had crippled al-Qaida, and additional security at diplomatic posts in unstable areas would contradict the message? Or that the requests were denied because a culture of excessive thriftiness has taken hold in Washington since the 2010 Republican wave election and the subsequent endless debt showdowns?"

Talk about hypocrisy.

Talk about hypocrisy.

First, Republi-cons "voted [twice in the last two years] to cut the State Department's embassy security budget."  Now they accuse Obama of ignoring requests for more security before the deadly attack. Read the Christian Science Monitor, Libya attack: Congressmen casting blame voted to cut diplomatic security budget

Then during 'special' hearings scheduled before the elections to score some political points, the same Republi-cons disclosed that the Benghazi consulate was part of an undercover CIA operation. 

Read the Washington Post, Letting us in on a secret