Is It Possible That The Democratic Party Is As Corrupt As Its Conduct In The I.R.S. Investigation Suggests?

Corleone testifiesThis began as an Ethics Dunce post, but designating Congressional Democrats as ethics dunces for their current, apparently agreed upon and coordinated response to the disgraceful I.R.S. scandal—and it is a scandal—appears far more sinister than that. This appears to be a cover-up, and a particularly blatant, clumsy and desperate one, as well as a sickening display of a major political party abandoning its principals and constituency—meaning the American people and not donors, sycophants or “the base”—to impede an effort to get to the truth.

Here’s Post columnist Michael Gerson’s fair summary of the I.R.S. affair to date:

“To review: After President Obama blamed “two Dilberts in Cincinnati,” an inspector general’s report found that high-level IRS officials in Washington were involved in directing additional scrutiny toward tea party groups seeking tax exemptions. [I.R.S. official Lois]Lerner admitted as much, before taking the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying before the House oversight committee. The House of Representatives held her in contempt. And now the evidence of possible communications between Lerner and other agencies (including the White House) has gone missing under suspicious circumstances. It could be a regrettable series of rogue operations, IRS management failures and technical glitches. Or they could be taking us for fools. If there was any political motivation for this abuse of power, it is a form of corruption — the kind of thing Americans like to criticize in countries they regard as less developed. And the circumstantial evidence is strong. This wave of heightened IRS scrutiny came after Democratic senators, warning of possible abuses spawned by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, demanded additional IRS scrutiny of nonprofit political groups. Because evidence of political influence is both plausible and circumstantial, a special counsel is needed to sort out the truth.”

The summary, in an accurate article titled “An arrogant and lawless I.R.S..” doesn’t include the fact that nobody has been disciplined or held accountable in any way for what occurred, including any of the imaginary scapegoats in the Cincinnati office. It doesn’t note that I.R.S. Commissioner Koskinen delayed informing Congress of the lost e-mails for months, after assuring members, under oath, that they would be provided. Yesterday, Koskinen stooped to Bill Clinton levels of deceitful parsing, arguing that when he swore to Congress that he would deliver all e-mails, he meant only all the e-mails that existed, since he couldn’t deliver those that no longer existed. Why didn’t he mention that those key Lerner e-mails had vanished? He wasn’t asked! Meanwhile, a government archivist testified yesterday that not informing Congress that the e-mails had been lost indeed violated a federal statute. Also yesterday, the I.R.S. admitted that it illegally played politics in 2012, leaking confidential tax information from an anti-gay marriage group to the pro-marriage Human Rights Campaign. Continue reading

The I.R.S. E-Mails: The New York Times, Flagship Of The Respectable Mainstream Media, Proves Its Corruption

IRSInvestigations

Washington, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009 – April 2011. Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame. The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.

You can be forgiven if you somehow missed this story, though it is obviously alarming, newsworthy, and possibly sinister. Many in the mainstream media have gone out of its way to ignore it. Yet this is likely or certainly possible spoliation, the illegal destruction of documentary evidence during litigation or an official investigation, which the House inquiry into the IRS’s irregularities regarding the approval of conservative groups prior to the 2012 election certainly is. If a private company “lost” key  and potentially incriminating evidence like this, indictments would follow. (RIP: Arthur Andersen) Recall, please, that Lerner pleaded the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination—her right, but hardly cooperative or comforting. This news is even less so.

Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D. (R-LA) added, “In the course of the Committee’s investigation, the Administration repeatedly claimed we were getting access to all relevant IRS documents. Only now – thirteen months into the investigation – the IRS reveals that key emails from the time of the targeting have been lost. And they bury that fact deep in an unrelated letter on a Friday afternoon. In that same letter, they urge Congress to end the investigations into IRS wrongdoing. This is not the transparency promised to the American people. If there is no smidgen of corruption what is the Administration hiding?”

Good question.

And yet, The New York Times decided that this wasn’t “news fit to print” anywhere. Roger Kimbell marvels: Continue reading

A Handy Review of Dishonest Scandal-Obscuring Talking Points

Ah, yes, such pretty "talking points"!

Ah, yes, such pretty “talking points”!

Let me begin by noting that I would not prefer to keep writing posts about Benghazi, the I.R.S., Attorney General Holder, and his inept and politicized Justice Department. All of the related scandals involve outrageous misconduct by the Democratic administration, together with the resulting attempt by Republicans to both uncover what occurred in the face of concerted Administration stonewalling and obfuscation, and to score political points while embarrassing President Obama and Democrats in the process. Since in this matter the offenders are either Democrats or those under a Democratic administration, it is impossible to comment on the matter fairly with out appearing partisan to some otherwise reasonable readers.

I should not have to write repeatedly about these collective failures, fiascoes and abuses of power, and would not if the leaders responsible would just tell the truth, stop spinning and using smoke screens, apply appropriate sanctions and consequences to the individuals involved. This Administration refuses to do that, and too many major media outlets refuse to do their jobs and pressure them to do that. Instead, a massive disinformation campaign has been mounted, presumably coordinated by the White House and the highest levels of the Democratic party, to minimize the situations involved, confuse the public about what occurred, misrepresent the seriousness of the implications of the events, and allow them all to fade away, ideally while performing political jiujitsu on Republicans and promoting a public backlash that might even benefit Democrats, as the impeachment of President Clinton did in 1998.

This must not be allowed to happen. I am under no delusions that I have any influence over whether it does happen or not: this blog has a good sized audience for an ethics blog, but that is like a restaurant saying that the pickled lizard-brains seem to be popular tonight.  I do believe that publishing my best objective ethical analysis during this disturbing  period might, might, somehow bolster the efforts of those who do have such influence.

Yesterday at the Congressional hearings on the I.R.S. targeting of conservative groups, a couple of misleading arguments by administration defenders officially reached dishonest talking point status, joining many others we have heard for the past two months (or more) and continue to hear. “Talking points,” used in this context, are arguments, statements and phrases devised by political strategists,  usually field-tested in focus groups and polls, and then emailed out to officials, party members, operatives, talking heads, friendly journalists and columnists and others to repeat in public statements in the media, over and over again, to influence public opinion. They are designed to shift blame, confuse the issues, inject false facts, and to appeal to rationalizations and bad logic.

It’s a cynical exercise, and infuriatingly obvious to the relative  few Americans who watch a lot of TV, listen to a lot of interviews and check multiple sources, have open minds and IQ’s above freezing.  It’s ridiculous, in fact: suddenly Democrat after Democrat after progressive talk show host (or, at other times, Republicans and conservative talking heads—this is not restricted to Democrats)  “independently” make the same dubious points using almost the same words.  But I’m not the target audience; they know anyone paying close attention is on to the technique. It’s aimed at those less involved citizens who pick up on the new excuses and circulate them to their friends and colleagues, who may not be paying attention to the media at all. It’s aimed at partisans controlled by confirmation bias: you will instantly see the talking points repeated in blog comment threads. These kinds of talking points are designed to make coherent debate and analysis impossible.

Before addressing yesterday’s  additions to the current talking point garbage pail, let’s review the haul so far. Now take your Pepto Bismol…

Benghazi Continue reading