Wait: Does President Obama Consider THIS A Scandal? Because, You Know, It Is…

Every time either ex-President Obama or one of his slavish acolytes—you know, journalists?—make the statement that his tenure was “scandal free,” honest Americans who have been paying attention grind their teeth down a few more millimeters.

Of course, Obama had plenty of scandals, serious ones—at least they would have been serious in any other administration. The fact that the news media chose to minimize them or ignore them doesn’t make them less scandalous…in fact, that’s a scandal itself.  To name one example that especially rankles me, the IRS, an Executive Branch Agency, eventually admitted that it used its power to meddle in the 2012 Presidential election, against Obama’s opponent. However, the formula of lying, covering up, stalling, and having allies in the press call everything negative under Obama a “nothingburger” carried the day. This was SOP for eight years.

When Obama personally lied—20 times? 30?— about how his signature health care plan would work (All together now: “If you like your plan…”), somehow this Nixon-Clinton level of intentional dishonesty was shrugged off as “the ends justify the means.” The fact is that it was a real, calculated, intentional lie used to trick the American people, not just a case of a President being wrong. Bush didn’t know that Iraq didn’t have WMD’s. Obama had to know what his own health care bill would do.

Blecchh!. I can taste the tooth powder!

This week, another genuine Obama scandal was uncovered that would have had Democrats seeking impeachment votes if it had occurred under Reagan or Bush. The Obama administration secretly gave Iran access to the U.S. financial system, defying the sanctions still in place after the 2015 nuclear deal, despite repeatedly telling Congress and the public that it would not and did not do anything of the sort.

What would you call that?

After striking its bone-headed, constitutionally-dubious nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration wanted to give Iran the promised access to its freshly unfrozen overseas reserves, including $5.7 billion stuck sitting in an Omani bank.  Iran wanted to convert the money into U.S. dollars and then euros, but that would require our giving the rogue nation access to the U.S. financial system. Obama officials had  promised Congress that Iran would never gain such access. As was the usual solution for Obama when law, the Constitution or established procedure stopped something he had decided in his Wisdom was Good and Just, Obama had his Treasury Department issue a license in February 2016 that would have allowed Iran to convert $5.7 billion it held at a bank in Oman into euros by exchanging them for U.S. dollars. The scheme failed, for the Omani bank blocked the transaction, but this is just moral luck, and does not make the secret end-around the sanctions less wrong.

The license issued to Iran’s Bank Muscat made lies of public statements from the Obama White House, the Treasury and the State Department denying that the administration was contemplating allowing Iran access to the U.S. financial system. After the nuclear deal was announced  in July 2015, Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified under oath—lying to Congress is still a scandal, unless Obama officials do it, and they did it a lot—that even with the sanctions relief, Iran “will continue to be denied access to the world’s largest financial and commercial market.” A month after that, another Treasury official, Adam Szubin, testified that  “Iran will be denied access to the world’s most important market and unable to deal in the world’s most important currency.”

“The Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran,” said Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio).   Verdict: Fair and accurate. And what is the rebuttal by the Obama-ites?

Ooooh, lame. Lamer than usual, in fact.

The Times, which is always eager to cover-up for Obama if it possibly can, report these excuses and rationalizations from Camp Obama:

  • “The decision to grant the license adhered to the spirit of the deal, which included allowing Iran to regain access to foreign reserves that had been off-limits because of U.S..”

I see. So since the spirit of the deal was “the public and giving away the store to Iran,” this was OK, then!

  • “Public assurances that Iran would be kept out were intended to dispel incorrect reports about nonexistent proposals that would have gone much farther by letting Iran actually buy or sell things in dollars.”

Ah! The old “we lied to dispel incorrect reports” dodge. What????

  • It wasn’t really  “access to the U.S. financial system.”  It was a license to use the U.S. financial system, and while clearly the kind of access that Congress assumed was blocked under repeated promises that “Iran will be … unable to deal in the world’s most important currency,” but not really access.

See, it all depends on what the meaning of “access” is.

  • The report is “another example of a faulty approach to Iran policy by Republicans and by President Donald Trump.”

A classic. Kill the messenger. Scream partisanship. TRUUUUUMP!!!

  • “They continue to malign the deal in an effort to justify President Trump’s unjustifiable decision,” said Ned Price, who was Obama’s White House National Security Council spokesman, referring to GOP lawmakers.

Accurately identifying lies and deceptions to Congress and the public isn’t “maligning the deal.” It is called “revealing the truth,” you utter partisan hack.

Meanwhile, watch this become an instructive case of the mainstream news media burying, spinning, and misrepresenting the importance of a story that doesn’t fit its agenda. For example, most of the usual suspects lead the story like CBS’s headline, “GOP Senate report says…”

This gives leave to the Democrats, progressives, Obama-foot-lickers and GOP haters to disbelieve the story entirely—after all, this is a GOP committee, and you know what they do. But there seems to be no question about the accuracy of the report, and thus an honest, objective headline would be “Obama officials gave Iran secret access to U.S. financial system.”

But that would sound like a scandal, and we all know there were no Obama scandals.

The Times headline is sneaky and desperate, as only the Times can be: Secret Obama-Era Permit Let Iran Convert Funds to Dollars.”

This would be funny, if it weren’t so sinister. “Obama era?” In 2013, the Red Sox won an Obama era World Series, but Obama and his administration had nothing to do with it. Does it hurt that much to say, “Secret Obama Administration Permit Let Iran Convert Funds to Dollars”? It would be honest, objective journalism, but that description would be impossible.

Obama didn’t have any scandals. Didn’t you know that?

____________________________

Sources: NYT, CBS

11 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Finance, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

11 responses to “Wait: Does President Obama Consider THIS A Scandal? Because, You Know, It Is…

  1. Isaac

    “They continue to malign the deal in an effort to justify President Trump’s unjustifiable decision,” said Ned Price, who was Obama’s White House National Security Council spokesman, referring to GOP lawmakers.

    “Spin” doesn’t even describe this. It’s more like, every time you say something this shockingly disingenuous a piece of your soul probably flies away, and once it’s all gone you qualify for a job as some sort White House spokesperson.

  2. “You can keep your plan…” is only a lie if Obama knew better, just as Bush claiming the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction is only a lie if Bush knew better. The assertion here is that Obama had to have known better, that it was impossible for him not to have known better. And certainly there had to have been senior people around who did know better, in each case.

    But I find it entirely plausible that Obama did not know better, even though he should have done, from a combination of the groupthink/cocooning by yes men that afflicted both of those presidents and from Obama’s own vulnerability to a certain kind of magical thinking: if a lot of miracles happened to make everything come right and grow into profitability, and if he just promised it in the sure and certain knowledge that so it would come to pass – and so, not miraculously unlikely but inherent in the nature of things as he promised them – why, then, so it must be, and he spoke truthfully by his own, deranged lights.

    As to whether it is better (for others) for a president to be a fool or a knave, that is another question entirely.

    • That’s a scandal too, if true. Right? Then the lie is different: this is my plan, I endorse it, I take responsibility for it, you can trust me; I’m brilliant; everyone tells you so, I know you are concerned about this, don’t worry. It is absolutely unethical for a President of anyone to say that in an important policy matter and not really know what he’s talking about. Now if he really was deceived by his own experts and subordinates, that’s a scandal of equal proportions, and maybe worse. Nobody was fired when it was revealed that Obama was deceiving the public. Why not, if he was deceived? He really handled the scandal by counting on the mainstream media to let it blow over.

      • Then the lie is different: this is my plan, I endorse it, I take responsibility for it, you can trust me; I’m brilliant; everyone tells you so, I know you are concerned about this, don’t worry…

        No, then that is not a lie. Remember, a lie is a knowingly untruthful statement, and here we are considering the very same assertions made delusionally, amounting to a materially different diagnosis.

        Now if he really was deceived by his own experts and subordinates, that’s a scandal of equal proportions, and maybe worse.

        I suspect that it was a combination of two things, also amounting to a materially different diagnosis:-

        – Those people did not deceive Obama, as such, but rather they failed to undeceive him, the corresponding sin of omission (and what I suspect happened around Bush, too).

        – It all started with self-deception, of the same general sort as the anecdotal marketing committee that directed the engineers to give a gadget a flashing light to indicate when the battery was dead; they considered it their remit to state (as they had) what the market would like, and that it was entirely a failure of the engineers not to keep the marketing promises. Likewise, Obama could well have blithely promised what he supposed was the task of others to deliver, something which he sincerely thought they would and should do and for which non-performance meant their failure, not his inaccuracy; his the higher truth, and that.

        As for the rest of what you put, yes, of course – apart from the suggestion that that sort of failure is a lie. It’s a different sort of failure, which matters just as much as sound diagnosis ever does. You can’t say accurately that malaria and syphilis are just as bad, so it doesn’t make any difference if you give each the same treatment (in fact, the former is a treatment for advanced cases of the latter!). Any attempt at rebuttal along the lines of “that is also wrong” is just precisely a failure to appreciate diagnostic accuracy.

        • Now you are talking about contrived ignorance, or deliberate self-deception. Since that is done with the intent to deceive, it is the equivilent of a lie. Obaama knew that the people he was addressing and saying “this is true” naturally and properly assumed that as President,and one whose bill was informally NAMED AFTER HIM he would not be so irresponsible as to be ignorant of what the bill was. If he had not directly read and confirmed what he was saying was true, then when he made an unequivocal assertion repeatedly, he was lying. Obama is a lawyer, though a crummy one. He was taught that doing that—saying something is true when you don’t know it is true to a judge, for example–was and unprofessional and unethical….and sanctionable. If Obama did not know what he said he knew to the extent that he was telling people he knew it, then he was lying by the definition of lie. Saying “I am certain, and you can trust me” is the lie.

          • Here, I shall only address your first two sentences. The remainder will have to await greater leisure to attend to it on my part. All those things you wrote later may well add up to Obama’s failure – but quite possibly a very different failure. Later, I may run your later statements past that possibility, to see how well they square with that as well as how well your own hypothesis holds up against it.

            You are telling me, practically to my face, that I am “talking about contrived ignorance, or deliberate self-deception”, right after I put precisely this literal text: “… here we are considering the very same assertions made delusionally … It all started with self-deception …” – which is not something that starts by deciding on self-deception and only second does self-deception.

            No, I am bloody well not “talking about contrived ignorance, or deliberate self-deception”, and for you to make out that I am is for you to tune out, to register as indistinguishable, the very point to which I wished to draw your attention: “It’s a different sort of failure, which matters just as much as sound diagnosis ever does”. And I actually warned about not appreciating the fine diagnostic point!

            For you to skate around and make out that I was telling you what you had been telling me – well, that appears to me most likely to be confirmation bias, not taking on board what you cannot contemplate, but if I were to adopt your own standards of assessment I would have to reckon it “contrived ignorance, or deliberate self-deception”.

            Look, I suspect that Obama may have been deranged, in the technical sense of the word, though that does not necessarily involve being non-functional in ordinary ways. It strikes me as being worth considering that possibility, as and when evidence turns up, so as to keep assessments up to date. It strikes me as wrong to rewrite that and rule it out by rephrasing it as what you put; that builds in the certainty of always getting the answer that Obama lied.

            So don’t tell me that I am really telling you what you want to hear. That’s just precisely the groupthink/failure to undeceive process I was warning about, only writ small.

            You are welcome to disagree, to argue, to rebut my points – but not to substitute or alter them, even in your own mind, not if you wish to be just to yourself.

            • PM, your posts here have the smell of ‘depend on what the definition of the word ‘is’ is’

              Obama lied. End of story. His plan, his administration, his responsibility.

              Splitting fine hairs goes beyond the normal bar in such matters, for the average person. Obama owns this, and if the media had not been his shill, would have paid the same price Bush Senior did for his ‘read my lips’ speech.

            • Boy is that a convoluted objection! I’m saying that the situation you want to describe as delusion or derangement was, at the most generous assessment, NOT either, but contrived ignorance, or, at worst, a deliberate lie. My conclusion is based on my conviction, and all available evidence, that while Obama was inept, feckless and incompetent, he was not stupid, nor was he crazy. No one who isn’t stupid or crazy stakes his reputation on a measure named after him without making certain he knows what’s in it. If he does do that, it is because he doesn’t want to know what’s in it.

              No, having someone tell you what’s in it is not sufficient assurance. Obama knows that, too.

  3. ”All together now: ‘If you like your plan…’ ”

    I believe history will show the far more insidious and exponentially more expensive lie will be:

    “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and CUT THE COST OF A TYPICAL FAMILY’S PREMIUM BY $2500 A YEAR” (caps mine)

    Obamacare premiums set to soar in 2019

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/obamacare-premiums-set-to-soar-in-2019/ar-AAyldXN?ocid=spartandhp

    Sumbeyatch!! We done got bent over AND Grubered©™®!!

  4. adimagejim

    Let’s not accuse the former President of being smart enough to know what his health care plan would do. It seems a big assumption considering his performance in nearly every respect.

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