May 17, 2013
Who Could Have Predicted This?
Was the White House involved in the IRS's targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.
President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an "independent" agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.
But that's not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn't need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he'd like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. "He put a target on our backs, and he's now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?" asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.
At the White House, President Obama addresses the IRS scandal, May 15.
Mr. VanderSloot is the Obama target who in 2011 made a sizable donation to a group supporting Mitt Romney. In April 2012, an Obama campaign website named and slurred eight Romney donors. It tarred Mr. VanderSloot as a "wealthy individual" with a "less-than-reputable record." Other donors were described as having been "on the wrong side of the law."
This was the Obama version of the phone call—put out to every government investigator (and liberal activist) in the land.
Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot's divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.
The last of these audits was only concluded in recent weeks. Not one resulted in a fine or penalty. But Mr. VanderSloot has been waiting more than 20 months for a sizable refund and estimates his legal bills are $80,000. That figure doesn't account for what the president's vilification has done to his business and reputation.
Meanwhile the 501(c)4 application of Organizing for Action, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Barack Obama Perpetual Campaign, seems to have escaped the white-hot scrutiny of the IRS:
President Obama’s successful campaign apparatus is converting—for a second time—to an ongoing advocacy organization. After the 2008 campaign, the well-oiled Obama machine reformed as Organizing for America, a component of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The first OFA became a tool for organizing support for President Obama’s major first term agenda initiatives. In the aftermath of the even more successful reelection campaign, there will be a new OFA—a 501(c)(4) called Organizing for Action.
... OFA’s initial slate of board members is straight out of the Obama reelection campaign, including Jim Messina, Stephanie Cutter, Robert Gibbs, Julianna Smoot, and soon, David Plouffe. It is very separate from the leadership of the Democratic Party. It could be that OFA represents the Obama team’s limited faith in the Democratic Party or perhaps an analysis that something is needed to pressure Democrats to stay in line behind the president’s second term agenda.
The Obama campaign reportedly has an e-mail list of between 12 million and 13 million names, the basis of a remarkably powerful independent organization. The collection of Obama campaign loyalists in OFA suggests the creation of a group that, whatever its commitment to a political agenda, may be as responsive to Obama as it is to progressive politics.
The new OFA leadership pledges that the organization will not accept donations from lobbyists, but who needs lobbyists to front for corporate special interests when corporations can make unlimited donations on their own? As a 501(c)(4), even if the leadership makes commitments to disclosure, OFA can still be a politically allied social welfare organization camouflaging the unlimited corporate donations unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Given OFA’s leadership by former Obama campaign staffers, how likely is it that OFA will be able to take the organization through small “d” democratic governance processes in any direction other than one supported by Messina, Plouffe, and other campaign operatives promoting the president’s agenda?
March 06, 2013
Apparently, The Post Does Not Actually Regret the Error
Without informing readers in the story or elsewhere, on Monday night The Washington Post deleted its explicit claim that the Dominican prostitute who recanted her allegation against Sen. Robert Menendez had appeared in a video posted to The Daily Caller.
...Readers were not notified of the update anywhere on the article page of Leonnig’s story, and the time stamp was removed to make it impossible to know when the edits went into effect.
The Post published another story at noon on Monday by Leonnig covering TheDC’s refutation of her original piece. In it, Leonnig does not explicitly state her investigation covered the same women interviewed by TheDC.
We're beginning to understand the value of the professional media's rigorous layers of editorial fact checking and control. The use of anonymous sources whose motivation can't be questioned can be quite helpful here, along with the use of subtle hints about connections that don't actually exist. All this indirection is so much harder to fact check:
A Dominican politician related to a top political donor to Sen. Bob Menendez was the driving force promoting new claims from a woman who now says she concocted an allegation that the senator paid her for sex in 2012.
The Miami Herald reported Tuesday that Vinicio Castillo Semán, the cousin of Dr. Salomon Melgen, first released an affidavit Monday from a Dominican escort named Nexis de los Santos Santana, who recanted what she said were accusations she made in a media report.
The Washington Post quickly connected that affidavit to The Daily Caller’s Nov. 1, 2012 report, in which two women said on videotape that they were paid to provide sexual favors to Menendez. But de los Santos’ statement Monday appears to describe a different interview that was never published.
Isn't this the kind of thing that normally shows up in the corrections section of a major newspaper? Oh well, at least the media can comfort themselves that they're far more professional than the blog rabble.
Sheesh. This is twice in the space of a week Monsieur O'Spades has done something that makes us feel positively tingly. If he keeps this up, we'll have to create a new category just for him.
Full marks. CWCID: Patterico.
January 15, 2013
Obama: "In 2006, I Was An Absurd, Irresponsible Partisan Hack"
"…we’re going to have to make sure that people are looking at this in a responsible way, rather than just through the lens of politics."
- President Barack Obama, imploring Congressional Republicans to rise above the kind of petty, partisan grandstanding that characterized his own 2006 vote on the debt ceiling.
The date was March 16th, 2006. The young Senator, still wet behind the ears after only 14 months on Capitol Hill, rose to lecture his more experienced colleagues about the need for fiscal responsibility:
Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem.
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.
Flash forward to 2012. With Democrats firmly in control of both the White House and Senate it would be absurd - irresponsible, in fact - to blame the fact that we are once again discussing the debt limit to leadership failure. The appalling vacuum that forced a young Senator to explain the duties of the Chief Executive to a President who had held that office three times longer than Obama had been a Senator is mercifully gone, but eternal truths remain, well... eternal:
Leadership means that ‘‘the buck stops here.’’
So deep is the President's belief in this noble sentiment that he used it again during the 2012 campaign to admonish Mitt Romney for failing to live up to this administrations's lofty standards:
... as President of the United States, one of the things I’ve learned, and we just talked about was anything that happens on my watch is my responsibility. That’s what people expect. Harry Truman said the buck stops with me...”
A mere half year later, though, Obama's elusive buck seems to stop everywhere but at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. America is having this debate, not because we've had it every year for the last few decades, but because
terrorists violent extremists in the House of Representatives have taken the nation hostage.
Calling the opposition’s stance “absurd,” Obama advised Republicans that they “have two choices here: They can act responsibly and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. . . . And they better choose quickly, because time is running short.”
And that was just the opening statement. The hectoring continued through the Q&A. Exactly one month after the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Obama said of debt-reduction talks: “What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people.”
Why can't we all just get along? Fortunately, we now have a president who understands us and feels our pain. A less sensitive leader might be tempted to trivialize a tragedy that is still all too fresh in our minds, but real leaders rise above such pettiness.
Back when the national debt was only half of today's staggering figure of 16.4 trillion (That's trillion with a "T", he reminded his fellow Senators), the young Senator Obama pleaded passionately for Congress to come its senses:
Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally...Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit
Today, he dismisses his former vote as a "political vote" by an inexperienced public servant. This does not explain why every single Democratic Senator voted against raising the debt limit in 2006.
But no matter. What's important here is that our elected representatives work with a Democratic president who has announced in advance that he refuses to negotiate towards a "balanced solution". And nothing makes political adversaries feel warmer and fuzzier than a few terrorist analogies and a whole lot of name calling.
That's leadership we can all believe in.