Monthly Archives: June 2014

Strib:  Appoint a special prosecutor in IRS imbroglio

Strib doesn’t think it’s bullshit or a phony scandal apparently

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/264985911.html?src=news-stmp#FFDHKDBIHKLfSV0K.97

Big thing is the canard that “conservative and liberal groups were equally targeted” doesn’t withstand serious review.  From the editorial:

Democrats and IRS officials sometimes portray that report as exonerating the agency because agents gave extra scrutiny to a variety of groups applying for similar status. But a thorough reading of the report underscores that conservative groups were targeted. While applications for other groups were sometimes forwarded for additional review, the Inspector General found that “all cases with Tea Party, Patriots or 9/12 in their names were forwarded” for extra scrutiny during the time investigators sampled.

It’s useful here to restate what this imbroglio is exactly:

  • There’s the offense, which was probably merely Lerner and her cabal querying for tax exempt political groups, and then harassing the conservative ones.  In an Occam’s razor way, I think it’s reasonable to speculate that the White House didn’t order it or offer any guidance or encouragement.
  • There are the investigations by Issa and Camp, which are in measures both real oversight and political theatre.
  • There’s the stonewalling and coverup by the Treasury and IRS

I don’t know that an editorial board like the Strib’s has any real desire to see the Obama administration made accountable over the IRS.  Thing is, it is an imbroglio, and it is damaging to the Obama administration and Democrats, to which the Strib’s board are sympathetic.

As Lerner and her cabal have probably abused process as public officials, they aren’t testifying and providing insight.  So Issa and Camp are able to demagogue without limitation.  They can even shade to say things that are probably not true, and there won’t be much in the way of substantive, factual retort.  This can go on and on, through to the fall election and past.  It’s probably a very damaging narrative in a year where Democrats aren’t going to turn out robustly.

You know what would put an end to the Issa show and this damage it’s doing? A special prosecutor’s investigation.  Yes, a special prosecutor appointment would be a smart move for the President or Attorney General.  A special prosecutor would take the investigation away from Issa.  There would be quiet for some months or a year until the report came out.  When it does come out, it would probably be a better reflection of the truth, with referrals for Lerner and a few others.

Eazy peazy, no big deal.  And I think the Strib probably understands this.

In any event, a special prosecutor is probably a practical response for the President and Attorney General, but also one that is very unlikely to happen.  There’s a psychological hurdle there, that being President Obama and the Democrat’s group psychosis for the notion of liberalism’s superior ethics.  A special prosecutor’s appointment violates that notion.  They can’t come to grips with the idea Lerner was wrong.

 

 

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President Obama visits Minnesota

http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2014/06/minnehaha-park-crowd-cheers-obamas-talk-flexible-work-equal-pay-efforts

In no order, and all over the place:

I’m trying to figure out what the necessity is for these townhalls, what with the President not running again.  Thing is, they’re staged to the nth and antiseptic.  Are they really going to let loose passionate voters?  It seems like a dubious use of the President’s time, but I guess it’s a way to keep delivering the message.  Other thing is, it’s something to counterbalance the absurdity of these $32,500 a plate fundraising dinners.

By the way, when we get the first amendment rewritten to outlaw political contributions, will these dinners go away too?  Somehow I doubt it.

These dinners are about as dubious a use of money as I can think of.

Re the President’s lunch guest, Rebekah E, who has a tough luck story to relate apparently…  Just goes to show you the power of letter writing.  You know I contemplated writing him a letter myself in the dark days after the post Lehman crash.  I recall reporting an AGI of $26,000 for 2009.  Very difficult to put food on my family on that, as George W. Bush would say.  I got behind on my mortgage, and didn’t catch up for three years.  But as I never got 60 days past due, I was never eligible for any of the bailout homeowner loans.  But as I was behind, I had damaged my credit, and no one would write a conventional loan for me when rates dropped, so that I could save money and buttress my ability to make a mortgage payment.  I would have written a letter to the President about this paradoxical situation.  That the mortgage bailout had missed a few practical scenarios, and that I was at various points being advised to let my house payment go 60 days past due, so that I could be eleglible for HARP / HAMP / HAMPER… whatever.  But I was preoccupied at the time looking for adult work and selling tchotchkes on ebay to cobble together house payments.  And then after a while, the situation was better, and writing a letter seemed at best a whimsical use of my time.

I was hell on call center reps in those days though.

I don’t mean to pat myself on the back for being the world’s greatest bootstrapper.  I have some grit as a person but events and trends could have squashed me too.  It’s just that the mortgage crisis is over, and everyone has their story.   I don’t know why you have a lunch meeting to talk about something that nobody will do anything about.  Let’s move on.

Anyway, the White House reads their mail.  And the average Joe or Jill getting a lunch meeting out of a letter has the feel of a Hollywood plot point.  Thing is, a lot of Hollywood plot points aren’t that fantastical.  They just don’t happen in reality because they take effort and imagination that can’t or won’t get expended within normal work routines.   So this is kind of cool that the White House makes lunch meetings out of letters from the average Joe or Jill. But as I say, there’s got to be a bit to do with trying to contrast the absurd fundraising dinners.

I had a Juicy Lucy once at the 5-8 club on McKnight and Minnehaha in Maplewood.  It wasn’t that great.  It was a mess, and the temperature was uneven.  The embedded cheese seems to pose a process problem such that it is very hard to get this burger done correct.  I also had one at the Nook, and it was better.  Maybe the wester you go, the better they are.

Anyway….flexible work hours.  Yes, that’s the part of the headline in the Minnpost story too, but I don’t see it explained within the text.  What the hell is flexible work hours?  Is that like when you have to make a dentist appointment during work hours, and you say to the boss, hey, I’m going to miss a couple hours here.  I’ll make it up over the next few days.  We need a law for that?

I had some pretty work bad habits as a newly minted college grad.  My dad told me, get to work on time, there’s always some old biddy watching the clock, who tells the boss who’s late.  And this was true, for a few years.  Then the workplace changed, and it’s gotten almost to the point where bosses don’t want to hear any of that stuff.  What I mean is, they just assume you’ll make up hours, and they don’t want to have to expend the effort listening to how you have to juggle this and that.  Just put it in your Outlook so it shows, see that it doesn’t impact your work deadlines, and it’s all cool.  That’s the thing.  With Outlook calendaring and project planning, time off requests have become all but obsolete.  No one wants to contemplate your time off scheduling, and they don’t want you contemplating theirs.

Conservative Outrage Du Jour: Lerner wanted to audit Sen. Grassley

The original revelation and it’s context comes from the Rep.  Dave Camp chaired Ways and Means Committee. 

http://waysandmeans.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=385938

In 24 hours it’s been repeated millions of times, the nugget being that Lois Lerner sought to audit Sen. Charles Grassley based on review of an innocuous speaking invitation from a 501c4.

I read the original Lerner email chain attached to the committee release, and I don’t read it that way.  I read it that Lois Lerner would have liked to have audited the 501c4 based on the innocuous invitation.  Agreeing with that as proper analysis are Powerline and a handful of other conservative bloggers who are usually enthusiastic for notions of Obama administration scandal.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/06/108490.php

This being true and Camp being wrong, it’s fair to infer that the committee is taking a cheap shot at Lerner.  The committee is able to do that because Lerner is unable to offer a response in defense.  She’s probably guilty of some sort of bureaucratic harassment or abuse of process as a public official, and took the fifth to protect herself from prosecution for that.  But she can’t break her silence though to refute those accusations that are specious.

So Camp and a Issa can basically say anything they want about Lerner and the IRS, and there’s not going to be much that’s effective in way of factual retort.  TNR’s Beutler laments the conspiracy mongering here.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118393/irs-scandal-conspiracy-theorists-fall-logical-trap

His critique of illogic is accurate if you figure Issa and Camp are still acting in good faith, but I’m not sure that’s entirely true.  I don’t expect this will ever be tied to the White House…. Because the White House probably wasn’t involved, the whole thing being real enough as a scandal but a result of a politicized IRS.  And Issa and Camp probably have some inkling of that.

To the extent they are doing real oversight now, it’s also evolved to being mostly political theater.  The committee hearings and releases are red meat for the base, for this November.   And there are excesses, like the example we have here today.

Which is kind of fine, I think….chortle chortle.  But the Democrats could neuter it as a political issue and do some good by taking on the IRS.  Subvert the Republican argument by joining it.  Say yes, boy that IRS is corrupt, and we weren’t involved.  Let’s change the IRS

Why don’t they?  There’s no rule that says the IRS has to be part of the Democrat coalition.  There’s no rule that says supporting the progressive tax argument means supporting the IRS.

Bill Maher is pretty sure Pres. Obama is an atheist

I was on to this before, and it bears repeating when timely.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/bill-maher-tells-jon-stewart-why-obamas-religious-faith-is-bullsht/

Maher’s underlying observation is derived from an exercise in self adulatory projection that’s common to the left.  Maher thinks atheists are hip and smart, and those with faith dumb and square.  Maher is hip and smart, just ask him, and he voted for Obama.  He wouldn’t vote for someone dumb and square.  Ergo, Obama must be hip and smart and an atheist.

Not that Maher’s conclusion is wrong, by the way.  At this point the superficial faith of Democrat candidates is probably in most cases a ruse conducted for the sake of swinging some rube moderates.  The base tolerates this, but it’s like gay marriage was.  If any of these guys, including the President, had some appearance of sincere, authentic faith, they probably couldn’t win whatever nomination they sought.

False equivalence:  egalitarianism is the trump card

Here, David Brock calls false equivalence to blunt the accurate conservative observation that rich liberals are hypocrites on campaign finance:

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/david-brock-liberal-millionaire-existential-crisis-108215.html

Brock’s use is typical.  A claim of false equivalence asserts that the quantitative comparison, from which easy discernment of truth can be made, is no good because of mitigating criteria, that being a qualitative observation.  Often the qualitative observation is an assertion of values.   “My qualitative observation supersedes your objective one because it accounts for these prioritizes and values…”

Introduction of values into a comparison this way is fair on its face, but it changes the discourse from one of objective criteria to one that’s more ambiguous.  Having thrown out the quantitative and made everything a values proposition, how do you determine whose observation of quality is superior?  You’ve set the discourse up for cat’s games until the end of time, because value propositions can’t be disproven.   And I do assert as truth that the competing left / right rationales in today’s discourse are not obviously inferior or superior to each other.  They are merely different.  And can be balanced.

Maybe so you’d think, and I believe this understanding of philosophical parity is often reasonable.  But having changed the argument from quantitative to qualitative, liberals typically resolve it by asserting their preference for egalitarianism is so superior as a quality that it can supersede all other rationales, those both quantitative and qualitative.  And Brock has done that here, in a fine example of cutting to the chase.

It’s hard to argue with egalitarianism.  Which is basically the point I’m making.  But it’s not impossible.  The liberal assertion of false equivalence with its anchor line tethered to egalitarianism…. is a crock.  Egalitarianism is a good value, but not penultimate.