Iran’s fake election

June 14, 2013

We obviously can’t expect anyone decent to win today’s Iranian election. If there had been any doubt, the 2009 election proved that that wasn’t allowed. But we shouldn’t expect anyone decent to make a good showing either. The regime is making sure of that:

Iran’s feared Revolutionary Guards have set up a network of secret prisons after the leadership issued a set of orders to prepare for a security crisis in the aftermath of Friday’s presidential election.

The security preparations have been put in place as it emerged that the most moderate candidate in the field of seven candidates to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was attracting a wave of support.

Western diplomatic sources told The Daily Telegraph that the intelligence division of the Revolutionary Guards had established a new network of secret detention facilities in residential areas. The Revolutionary Guards, which report directly to the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is using the prisons to hold anti-government activists to prevent them from participating in tomorrow’s presidential election contest.

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A paranoid fringe group

June 14, 2013

Frank J Fleming’s latest column is one of his best:

Like many of my fellow Americans, I’m getting pretty concerned about a fringe group in our country that’s growing increasingly isolated and paranoid. Worse, we now have indications that this group is lashing out in ignorance and fear.

It’s time that we finally confront the problem of federal workers’ growing anti-citizen extremism.

The feds have shown warning signs for years, becoming increasingly withdrawn, hunkered down in their bunkers in DC. They’re disconnected from what’s going on in the rest of the country, getting their news only from extremist sources like Media Matters, MSNBC and The New York Times.

And in their fear and isolation, federal workers seem willing to believe almost any crazy conspiracy theory about the American public — such as that everyone is secretly racist against the president and that people are going to form militias to fight the government.

And now we know they’ve started attacking those they fear, with IRS workers targeting right-wing groups and Justice Department employees going after journalists. Others are apparently engaged in some massive spying operation on anyone who’s ever put a cat photo on Facebook. (To be fair, these last may really just be trying to spy on their ex-girlfriends.)

Now, citizen have plenty to worry about with the feds lashing out. After all, for years the government has stockpiled dangerous weapons like assault rifles, nuclear weapons and audit forms.

It hasn’t started blowing up US citizens in drone strikes (other than the four), but who knows what the feds will do if their paranoia is allowed to grow?

So what can be done? Well, we can’t do much as average citizens, as, of course, the government never listens to us. But certain people hold a lot of sway over it, and maybe they should start to watch what they say, considering that excitable, easily influenced groups like federal workers are out there listening.

Now, I’m all for freedom of speech — along with the iPad, it’s one of the modern conveniences I use the most — but some people need to be more careful with what they say about the citizenry, so they don’t feed federal workers’ paranoia.

I’m thinking especially of President Obama, as people in the federal government tend to listen to him. When Obama and his colleagues talk about how dangerous the Tea Party and other conservatives are, with their dislike of taxes and spending, most folks are discerning enough to dismiss that as partisan rhetoric. But impressionable people not known for independent thinking — bureaucrats — will hear talk of the “dangers” these groups pose and act as if the dangers are real.

I’ll bet when the IRS went after Tea Party groups and Eric Holder signed warrants to investigate reporters, these people ignorantly thought they were helping Obama and that he’d be happy with them.

I’m not trying to say this is Obama’s fault — it’s not like it’s his job to know what goes on in the federal government — but if he were more careful with what he says, he could probably end a lot of federal workers’ paranoia about our citizens right now. He could instead explain to the people in the government that there is nothing to fear from ordinary Americans — that, in fact, a healthy country needs not only a flourishing government, but also a strong, powerful citizenry.

And once the feds have calmed down and are no longer scared of the people, we need someone to finally keep an eye on it so it doesn’t do crazy things out of fear again. In fact, I thought there were already people who are supposed to do that.

After the Fast & Furious mess, we should have known someone like Eric Holder can’t be responsible for himself, but we need to have a long talk with whoever his supervisor is.

(I’ve corrected a few typos that somehow got past the Post’s editors.)


Sheesh

June 14, 2013

When Glenn Reynolds said that lefty blogger (and Obama favorite) Josh Marshall would call any scrutiny of Obama’s travel costs racist, I assumed he was humorously extrapolating from Marshall’s previous work. I mean, who would actually say such a thing?

As it turns out, Josh Marshall would. You cannot parody these guys.


Chavismo

June 14, 2013

Despite all the damage Hugo Chavez has done, I honestly didn’t expect to see a nation with as much natural wealth as Venezuela entering its death spiral this soon:

New App Helps Venezuelans Find Toilet Paper


The partisan divide on surveillance

June 12, 2013

Pew has an interesting poll on public opinion toward NSA surveillance in 2006 and today:

nsa-surveillance-poll

Now, to some extent this is just showing partisan differences, with both Republicans and Democrats sticking up for their guy. What I think is interesting is that the two NSA programs in question are very different.

In the 2006 program, the government was spying on specific foreign terrorists. In the 2013 program, the government is spying on all Americans (no one believes that the program is really limited to Verizon, do they?). Moreover, the current program actually excludes foreigners.

So when 75% of Republicans were okay with spying on foreign terrorists, but only 52% are okay with spying on all Americans, there’s a logic to that. (Indeed, I would have expected the first number to be higher and the second lower.)

But the apparent Democratic position — foreign terrorists deserve privacy but not American citizens — makes no sense on the merits. It has to be blind partisanship.

POSTSCRIPT: What about the independents, who are hovering right around a lukewarm 50% but are somewhat more comfortable now than then? I think they are responding to a partisan media. Not that the media is so keen on NSA surveillance now, but their opposition is muted. If you recall the media in 2006, you would have thought that spying on foreign terrorists was the end of the republic.

(Previous post.)


Your lips are moving again

June 11, 2013

President Obama says that Republicans aren’t treating his judicial nominees fairly:

My judicial nominees have waited three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessor. Let me repeat that: My nominees have taken three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessor.

Despite the specific detail (Obama knows that specifics like “three times longer” are key to making a story sound believable), his claim isn’t remotely true:

Obama’s claim seemed heartfelt, but it wasn’t anywhere near true. As it happens, the Congressional Research Service has just done a study comparing judicial nominations in the first terms of several recent presidents. Among other things, the study noted how long each president’s nominees waited from the day they were nominated to the day they were confirmed. . .

The CRS study found that Bush’s first-term nominees waited an average of 277 days for confirmation, while Obama’s waited 240 days. So not only did Obama’s nominees not wait three times longer than Bush’s, they actually made it to the bench faster.

As for the U.S. district courts, which have far more seats than the circuit courts, the study found that Obama’s nominees have waited an average of 222 days, while Bush’s waited 156. So Obama’s picks have waited longer before confirmation — but nowhere near three times as long.

But what about the final results? As it turns out, Obama has had a higher percentage of his circuit court nominees confirmed during his first term than Bush did. The CRS report notes that 71.4 percent of Obama’s circuit court nominees were confirmed in his first term, compared with 67.3 percent in Bush’s first term.

Obama’s complaint is also amazingly hypocritical, given his own record of stalling judicial nominees when he was in the Senate.


Your lips are moving again

June 11, 2013

CNN reports:

President Barack Obama’s push back to criticism of the National Security Agency surveillance programs is that he has increased checks and balances, bringing the foreign surveillance courts into the process, for instance, and – he insists – looping in Congress.

“When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program,” the president said Friday.

Here’s the problem with that: It is not true – every member of Congress has not been briefed on the phone data program.

I’m sure this guy must tell the truth sometimes, but I can’t remember the last time.

(Previous post.)


IRS workers finger Washington

June 11, 2013

The IRS claims that all its misconduct was limited to a few front-line workers. We already knew that wasn’t true, but those front-line workers — tired of being scapegoated — are starting to give specifics and name names:

Two Internal Revenue Service agents working in the agency’s Cincinnati office say higher-ups in Washington directed the targeting of conservative political groups when they applied for tax-exempt status, a contention that directly contradicts claims made by the agency since the scandal erupted last month.

The Cincinnati agents didn’t provide proof that senior IRS officials in Washington ordered the targeting. But one of the agents said her work processing the applications was closely supervised by a Washington lawyer in the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status, according to a transcript of her interview with congressional investigators.

Her interview suggests a long trail of emails that could support her claim.

One of the agents explained that she had no autonomy when it came to Tea Party targeting:

Elizabeth Hofacre, the Cincinnati staffer, said that she started receiving applications from Tea Party groups to sift through in April, 2010. Hofacre’s handling of those cases, she said, was highly influenced by Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington.

Hofacre said that she integrated questions from Hull into her follow-ups with Tea Party groups, and that Hull had to approve the letters seeking more information that she sent out to those organizations. That process, she said, was both unusual and “demeaning.”

“One of the criteria is to work independently and do research and make decisions based on your experience and education,” Hofacre said, according to transcripts reviewed by The Hill. “Whereas in this case, I had no autonomy at all through the process.”

“I thought it was over the top,” she added, in interviews held by investigators in both parties from the House Oversight and Ways and Means committees. “I am not sure where it came from, but it was a bit unusual.”

(Previous post.) (Via Legal Insurrection.)


Organizing for Tax-Exempt Action

June 11, 2013

One of the defenses offered for the IRS’s targeting of conservative, Christian, and pro-Israel groups is that is that political organizations oughtn’t be tax exempt in the first place. For example, here’s extreme leftist Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA):

We’re talking about whether or not the American taxpayers will subsidize your work. We’re talking about a tax break. If you didn’t come in and ask for this tax break, we would have never had a question to ask of you.

(ASIDE: The “we” is a nice touch. McDermott actually identifies himself with the IRS’s misconduct. Most liberals aren’t that honest.)

So what about the 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization Organizing for Action? Until a few months ago the organization went by a different name: Barack Obama 2012. Indeed, their web site is still located at barackobama.com. There is no more political organization in America.

(Previous post.)


Vermont nixes Obamacare co-op

June 11, 2013

The Washington Examiner reports:

Vermont’s insurance commissioner denied a license to a new statewide Obamacare health care cooperative because it is “fatally flawed” and likely to be insolvent within three years, The Washington Examiner has learned.

Commissioner Susan L. Donegan of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation also criticized Vermont Health CO-OP’s business practices, especially an “illegal” contract that would generate as much as $500,000 in income for a company owned by its president.

Donegan further criticized what she described as the co-op’s “deceptive” consumer advertising. . .

She predicted the health co-op would lose money each year, attract too few customers and face insolvency in only three years.


Obamacare’s “navigators”

June 11, 2013

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has an interesting piece on Obamacare “navigators”, the legions of government advisers recruited to fan out and help people make health insurance decisions. A few of the problems Mirengoff identifies are:

  • The navigators are specifically barred from giving complete advice. Specifically, they will not volunteer the fact that purchasing insurance may be more expensive than the Obamacare penalty.
  • The navigators will be given access to a wealth of personal information, but will undergo no background check, even to exclude known felons and identity thieves.
  • The federal government is paying for the navigators, despite being barred by law from doing so.

Another State Department scandal

June 11, 2013

I can’t even keep track of all the scandals any more. Here’s the latest:

CBS News has uncovered documents that show the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks. . .

CBS News’ John Miller reports that according to an internal State Department Inspector General’s memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in sexual assaults” on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries” — a problem the report says was “endemic.”

The memo also reveals details about an “underground drug ring” was operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and supplied State Department security contractors with drugs.

Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator with the State Department’s internal watchdog agency, the Inspector General, told Miller, “We also uncovered several allegations of criminal wrongdoing in cases, some of which never became cases.”

In such cases, DSS agents told the Inspector General’s investigators that senior State Department officials told them to back off, a charge that Fedenisn says is “very” upsetting.

Sexual assaults and drug trafficking, and “senior State Department officials” quashed the investigations.

Beyond the appalling misconduct itself, just think about the ramifications: The people defending our embassies are being sexually assaulted and given drugs. Is it just possible that this might reduce their effectiveness a little bit? But “senior State Department officials” are fine with that. Is it no wonder the attack against our Benghazi consulate succeeded?

(Previous post.) (Via Hot Air.)


NSA probably spied on Congress

June 11, 2013

It’s sad that I don’t even find this surprising:

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) questioned Attorney General Eric Holder last Thursday at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing about whether the NSA spied on members of Congress.
“Mr. Attorney General, I want to take you to the Verizon scandal and — which I understand takes us to possibly monitoring up to 120 million calls. You know, when government bureaucrats are sloppy, they’re usually really sloppy. Want to just ask, could you assure to us that no phone inside the Capitol were monitored of members of Congress that would give a future executive branch, if they started pulling this kind of thing off, would give them unique leverage over the legislature?” he asked.

Holder responded, “With all due respect, Senator, I don’t think this is an appropriate setting for me to discuss that issue. I’d be more than glad to come back in a — in an appropriate setting to discuss the issues that you have raised.”

Kirk, a Naval intelligence officer, pressed Holder remarking, “I would interrupt you and say the correct answer would be say no, we stayed within our lane, and I’m assuring you we did not spy on members of Congress.”

If Holder won’t say it didn’t happen (which he usually has no qualms about saying, even when it’s not true), then we may assume it did.

(Previous post.)


A dangerous time

June 11, 2013

We are at a uniquely dangerous point in American history. When Richard Nixon tried to use the IRS to target his enemies, the agency told him to take a hike. Today, the agency is happy to target the president’s enemies. In fact, if the White House is telling the truth (a big if, I know), they don’t even have to be asked to do it! As Mark Steyn puts it:

Indeed, let’s take the president at his word that the existence of this shadowy IRS entity working deep within the even shadowier U.S. Treasury planted in deep cover within the shadowiest conspiracy of them all, this murky hitherto unknown organization called “the executive branch,” that all this was news to him.

What that means then is not that this or that elected politician is corrupt but that the government of the United States is corrupt.

Combined with this historically unusual affinity for misconduct, the government also has unprecedented capabilities to abuse. Again, Mark Steyn:

Perhaps this is just the way it is in the panopticon state. Tocqueville foresaw this, as he did most things. Although absolute monarchy “clothed kings with a power almost without limits” in practice “the details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control.” What would happen, Tocqueville wondered, if administrative capability were to evolve to bring “the details of social life and of individual existence” within the King’s oversight? Eric Holder and Lois Lerner now have that power. . .

When the state has the power to know everything about everyone, the integrity of the civil service is the only bulwark against men like Holder. Instead, the ruling party and the non-partisan bureaucracy seem to be converging. In August 2010, President Obama began railing publicly against “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity” (August 9th, a speech in Texas) and “shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names” (August 21st, radio address). And whaddayaknow, that self-same month the IRS obligingly issued its first BOLO (Be On the Look-Out) for groups with harmless-sounding names, like “tea party,” “patriot,” and “constitution.”

It may be that the strange synchronicity between the president and the permanent bureaucracy is mere happenstance and not, as it might sound to the casual ear, the sinister merging of party and state. Either way, they need to be pried apart. When the state has the capability to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well.

The danger here isn’t Barack Obama. This is not the first corrupt administration and it won’t be the last. The danger here is the government. It must be scaled back.

We should not attack Obama primarily for being personally responsible for the scandals. For most of them he probably isn’t. We should attack Obama primarily for refusing to do anything about them, and for thwarting Congress’s efforts. (No, he hasn’t thwarted Congress’s efforts to clean house yet — other than by stonewalling investigations — but is there any doubt that he will?) And, since nothing can be done while Obama is still in office, we must remember. Unfortunately, remembering is something that the American people seem to be very bad at.


Oops

June 11, 2013

The EPA “accidentally” gave personal information on 80 thousand farmers and ranchers to radical environmentalists.


Then and now

June 7, 2013

Barack Obama, 2007:

This [Bush] Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.

Barack Obama, 2013:

“You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society,” Obama said.

He’s right now, and was demagoguing then. That doesn’t mean he’s making the right choices, just that he’s belatedly recognized the need to make them.

(Previous post.)


Shulman’s wife was “fair” elections advocate

June 7, 2013

The wife of Douglas Shulman (commissioner of the IRS when its targeting of conservative, Christian, and pro-Israel groups began) works for Public Campaign, a left-wing organization working for “fair” elections that is funded by a knave’s gallery of leftist groups:

Earlier this month, when news broke of the targeting scandal broke, Public Campaign president and CEO Nick Nyhart belittled the concerns of disenfranchised conservatives.

“There are legitimate questions to be asked about political groups that are hiding behind a 501(c)4 status,” Nyhart said in a statement provide to ABC. “It’s unfortunate a few bad apples at the IRS will make it harder for those questions to be asked without claims of bias.” . . .

Public Campaign receives “major funding” from the pro-Obamacare alliance Health Care for America NOW!, which is comprised of the labor unions AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, and the progressive activist organization Move On, among others.

That doesn’t smell good.

(Previous post. ”Please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers.”)


Clapper lied to Congress

June 7, 2013

So many top Obama officials have lied to Congress that it’s hardly even a thing any more, but you can add James Clapper to the list:

Weeks before the National Security Agency (NSA) began a massive phone sweeping operation on U.S. cellular provider Verizon, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress the agency does not conduct intelligence on American citizens. . .

“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” committee member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper during the March 12 hearing.

In response, Clapper replied quickly: “No, sir.”

As we know now, that wasn’t even remotely true. I’m sure the administration will put forward some argument why this wasn’t wasn’t a lie, but I can’t imagine what it will be. It will also be interesting to find out whether Clapper was under oath.

(Previous post.)


All your data are belong to Obama

June 7, 2013

I’m starting to think that the Obama administration’s plan to deal with the scandals is to have so many of them we can’t keep them straight any more. In the latest scandal, the NSA collected call data on all telephone calls placed on Verizon’s network in the United States. (The dragnet explicitly excludes calls that originate and terminate in foreign countries.) Before I got a chance to note it here, it was revealed that the NSA is collecting credit-card transactions as well.

This was so bad that even Obama’s boot-lickers at the New York Times lost patience with him, writing that he had “lost all credibility”, although they softened their criticism a few hours later.

This was Barack Obama in 2007, pledging to end the supposed abuses of the Bush administration:

Obama proclaimed, “No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.” He then cast his massive dragnet to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime using the FISA court rather than national security letters. Oh, that’s much better.

I feel it necessary to contrast what Obama is doing (I suppose I should say, what Obama’s administration is doing, since he will surely turn out have been out of the loop once again) with what happened during the Bush administration. The Bush-era terrorist surveillance program was tapping the phones of specific foreign terrorists.

That, of course, is exactly what they should have been doing. The part that somehow became controversial is they kept listening when those foreign terrorists placed calls to the United States. Of course. It’s utter foolishness to suggest that we should stop listening to terrorists when the call the United States; indeed, those are the calls we most need to hear. But a dishonest media reported the matter as though the administration was tapping domestic phones rather than foreign ones.

The Bush-era program was spying on foreign terrorists, not Americans. The Obama-era program is the exact opposite: It spies on every American who uses Verizon or a credit card, and it specifically excludes foreigners!


Free speech is dying

June 6, 2013

The nation that invented individual liberty has abandoned it:

A 22-year-old man has been charged on suspicion of making malicious comments on Facebook following the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby.

Benjamin Flatters, from Lincoln, was arrested last night after complaints were made to Lincolnshire Police about comments made on Facebook, which were allegedly of a racist or anti-religious nature.

He was charged with an offence of malicious communications this afternoon in relation to the comments, a Lincolnshire Police spokesman said.

(Via Power Line.)

We don’t know the specifics of the “malicious comments”, but they don’t matter. If the comments weren’t inciting violence (which is not reported, and presumably would have been had it been so), they should have been protected speech, and once would have been, no matter how offensive they might be.

Fortunately this could never happen in America. Oh, dang:

The [Eastern District of Tennessee’s] top federal prosecutor, Bill Killian, will address a topic that most Americans are likely unfamiliar with, even those well versed on the Constitution; that federal civil rights laws can actually be violated by those who post inflammatory documents aimed at Muslims on social media. “This is an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion,” Killian says in the local news story. “This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are.”

(Via Instapundit.)


TSA reconsiders sensible policy

June 6, 2013

A few months ago, the TSA — perhaps by accident — proposed a sensible change in policy whereby small knives (think Swiss Army Knives) could be carried on planes. This makes good sense because (1) being able to hijack a plane using small knives required an extraordinary degree of passivity on the part of the passengers and crew, which won’t be the case post-9/11, and (2) actual terrorists and criminals will have no difficulty smuggling knives through security anyway.

Naturally, the TSA is reversing itself:

The Transportation Security Administration has abandoned a plan to let passengers carry small knives on planes, following a steady outcry from lawmakers and industry advocates.

Security theater.

UPDATE (7/13): Asiana flight 214 shows the potential cost of the no-knives policy. It’s not just a matter of convenience.


157 meetings

June 6, 2013

Doug Shulman, the IRS commissioner when most of the known IRS misconduct took place, made at least 157 visits to the White House. If that seems like a lot, it really is. It’s nearly twice the number of known visits as the second-most-frequent high-level visitor (86). Shulman’s boss, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, made only 48 known visits.

Nevertheless, he says he can’t remember the substance of any of those meetings.

(Previous post. ”Please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers.”)


Explain the prayers

June 6, 2013

When the IRS demanded to know the substance of tax-exempt applicants’ prayers, it was not a few isolated incidents. The IRS made a practice of inquiring into applicants prayers:

Please explain in detail the activities at the prayer meetings. Also, please provide the percentage of time your organization spends on prayer groups as compared with the other activities of the organization.

(Previous post.)


Obamacare defenders make lemonade

June 6, 2013

Democrats are now trying to argue that it’s actually a good thing that Obamacare will double health insurance premiums. The argument, if I understand it, is that inexpensive policies only exist because they either exclude poor insurance risks or charge them more (well, yes), and thus they are unfair and shouldn’t exist.

The idea that using actuarial tables to set insurance premiums is somehow wrong certainly lies at the heart of socialized medicine, but it’s a very long way from the promise that “if you like your insurance, you can keep it”.

(Via Instapundit.)


Faux News

June 6, 2013

Haters of Fox News like to call it “Faux News”, a lame play on words that doesn’t even work if you actually know how “faux” is pronounced. But the real faux news channel is at the other end of the political spectrum, where MSNBC now admits that it’s not really a news channel:

At a time of intensely high interest in news, MSNBC’s ratings declined from the same period a year ago by about 20 percent. The explanation, in the network’s own analysis, comes down to this: breaking news is not really what MSNBC does.

“We’re not the place for that,” said Phil Griffin, the channel’s president, in reference to covering breaking events as CNN does. “Our brand is not that.”

I’m reminded of years ago when professional wrestling admitted it was fake, in (if I recall correctly) a legal filing that argued it was entertainment, not sport, which thereby improved its legal position somehow.

In MSNBC’s case, the article goes on to say — hilariously — that political opinion is the brand that MSNBC “has cultivated with success”. (Sure, if by success you mean having no one watch you.) But Fox, CNN, and even Headline News all manage to have both opinion and news. By managing only the opinion side, they fall into the same category as Current TV, Al Gore’s network (now owned by Al Jazeera) that manages to draw even fewer viewers than MSNBC.

(Via Jennifer Rubin.)


That’s a lot of bad apples

June 6, 2013

House investigators have found 88 IRS employees with documents relevant to the IRS scandal.

(Previous post. “Please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers.”)


How to get treated well by the IRS

June 6, 2013

When the IRS isn’t targeting conservative, christian, and pro-Israel groups for special scrutiny, it’s giving special treatment to groups with ties to President Obama:

Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official at the center of the decision to target tea party groups for burdensome tax scrutiny, signed paperwork granting tax-exempt status to the Barack H. Obama Foundation, a shady charity headed by the president’s half-brother that operated illegally for years.

According to the organization’s filings, Lerner approved the foundation’s tax status within a month of filing, an unprecedented timeline that stands in stark contrast to conservative organizations that have been waiting for more than three years, in some cases, for approval.

Lerner also appears to have broken with the norms of tax-exemption approval by granting retroactive tax-exempt status to Malik Obama’s organization.

Never mind the reported shadiness of the organization, which the article goes into but is really beside the point. The point is Obama’s brother gets the fast track, and — beyond that — is improperly back-dated, while groups the left doesn’t like get the shaft.

(Previous post.)


Death by EPA

June 6, 2013

The EPA isn’t deadly just to our economy:

A U.S. EPA-mandated device meant to reduce diesel emissions may have shut down an ambulance carrying a suspect who had been shot by police in Washington, D.C.

While medics yesterday were transporting the injured man, who was suspected of shooting at officers, to the hospital, the emergency vehicle shut down. Another ambulance took the man to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

D.C. fire officials said the shutdown likely occurred because of a device designed to burn diesel toxins. When the device isn’t working, warning lights go off in the vehicle and it eventually loses power. . .

Per EPA regulations, the device is required on all newer models of diesel vehicles. Critics of the mandate have previously called for an exemption for emergency vehicles.


Security breaches are no big deal any more

June 6, 2013

Remember the Plame-Novak-Armitage affair, in which our media pretended they were outraged (outraged!) that someone might leak the name of a (nominally covert) intelligence employee to the press? Metric tons of ink were spent, there was a special prosecutor, there was even a movie.

What made that so hard to take was the rampant hypocrisy of the leftist media pretending they thought that exposing intelligence workers was a bad thing, when in fact they love to expose covert operations.

Now that the Bush administration is out of office, the media is back to not caring (or actively supporting) intelligence leaks. Thus, you won’t see much ink, a special prosecutor, or a movie on either of these stories:

It was the Obama administration that sealed the fate of the Pakistani doctor jailed for helping nail Usama Bin Laden, by divulging key details after the fact and dooming any chance Shakil Afridi’s cover story could win his freedom, according to a confidential Pakistani report.

When former Secretary of Defense and ex-CIA Director Leon Panetta publicly acknowledged Afridi’s role in the ruse which helped the CIA pinpoint Bin Laden’s presence in an Abbottabad compound, any chance that Pakistani authorities could help him get out of the country vanished, according to what some have called Pakistan’s version of the 9/11 Commission, a 357-page report from an independent body set up to probe the aftermath of the 2011 raid by Navy SEALs in which the Al Qaeda leader was killed.

and:

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed the name of the Navy SEAL unit that carried out the Osama bin Laden raid and named the unit’s ground commander at a 2011 ceremony attended by “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmaker Mark Boal.

Panetta also discussed classified information designated as “top secret” and “secret” during his presentation at the awards ceremony, according to a draft Pentagon inspector general’s report published Wednesday by the Project on Government Oversight. . .

The leaked version of the report does not address whether Panetta knew Boal was present at the ceremony, held under a tent at the CIA complex on June 24, 2011. “Approximately 1,300” people from the military and the intelligence community were on hand for the event, according to a CIA press release issued the following week.

(Previous post.)


Anti-Israel IRS

June 6, 2013

The Washington Free Beacon advances the story of the IRS’s targeting of pro-Israel groups. It seems that the targeting was not limited to stalling tax-exempt applications, it extended to audits as well.

This segment of IRS targeting is unique in that it’s been in the public record since 2010:

Z STREET was informed explicitly by an IRS Agent on July 19, 2010, that approval of Z STREET’s application for tax-exempt status has been at least delayed, and may be denied because of a special IRS policy in place regarding organizations in any way connected with Israel, and further that the applications of many such Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”

The complaint specifically alleged an explicit IRS policy, and it named names. At the time I wasn’t sure whether the allegation was true, but now we have proof that the IRS does this sort of thing. The House committee it going to want to subpoena that guy.

Interestingly, by targeting pro-Israel groups, the IRS followed the urging of the New York Times, which ran pieces blasting tax-exempt pro-Israel groups:

Yet private organizations in the United States continue to raise tax-exempt contributions for the very activities that the government opposes.

People are engaging in activities the government (by which he means the Obama administration) opposes? Horrors! What is this, a free country?

The White House may end up being technically blameless in this scandal, but it is clear that a very large segment of the left was all in favor of turning the IRS into a political weapon.

(Previous post.) (Via Power Line.)


The fast path to promotion

June 5, 2013

Following the established Obama administration policy of promoting the key figures in its scandals (e.g., IRS, Gunwalker), Susan Rice — a central figure in the administrations lies about Benghazi — is being moved up to national security adviser.

Replacing her at the UN will be Samantha Power, who can be expected to weaken the Obama administration’s already-lukewarm support for Israel. In 2002 she bizarrely advocated a US invasion of Israel, in order to impose a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

(Previous post.)


Istanbul

June 4, 2013

Claire Berlinski’s account of what is going on in Istanbul is a must-read.

Tyrannies go through phases and I’ve wondered when Turkey’s Islamists would move from the popular phase to the repressive phase. It looks like that is happening now. I worry that it’s too late. Erdogan has had years to consolidate his power; a peaceful revolt is unlikely to dislodge him now.