Monday, May 20, 2013

Benghazi and the IRS

* Scandals. It's almost too good to be true for those of us who are conservative and never trusted Obama nor believed a word out of Obama's mouth. We have the ongoing investigation into the Benghazi cover-up, the IRS targeting conservative groups and the subsequent cover-up of that, and the Justice Department obtaining the work and personal phone records of AP reporters. At the same time we have the jury decision in the Doctor Gosnell case; finding that the killing of babies born alive, following an attempted abortion, is indeed murder. I throw that in the mix because not only is it a victory for conservatives, but because Obama favored so-called partial birth abortions - not significantly different from what got Gosnell convicted.

* Benghazi. There are three parts to the Benghazi story: why did the State Department fail to provide adequate security for the diplomatic post in Benghazi, why were some troops given an order to stand down instead of go in and assist, and why was there a cover-up of the truth behind the attacks. Underlying all three issues is who was involved in all of the decisions. Or, in Watergate parlance, who knew what, and when did they know it?

* An unwillingness to face the truth. Incredibly, there are still those on the left who will not even acknowledge any cover-up occurred, coincidentally, only weeks before the presidential election. The mainstream media leads the charge with regards to denial. The LA Times (5/9/13) said the testimony of the whistle blowers before Congress "shed little new light on the key questions at issue in the hearing." They continued that "partisan politics loomed large" at the hearings. Every congressional hearing involves politics. That's not the question though; the question is whether independent of the politics, there is a legitimate issue warranting Congressional investigation. Greg Hicks, second in command in Libya in the State Department (and first after the murder of our Ambassador) said it was clear from the beginning it was a coordinated attack. No one there was talking about an alleged anti-Muslim video. When he heard UN Ambassador Susan Rice went on five talk shows the Sunday after the attack, blaming it all on the anti-Muslim video, Hicks said he was disgusted.

* As Hicks never reported anything about a video, a real news organization might be a little curious about how Rice ended up blaming the video and not terrorism, as did Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for weeks afterward. A real news outlet might wonder how it came to be that the highest officials in our government all came to repeat the same lie. Of course, the State Department's Accountability Review Board (A.R.B.) was not interested in the truth either. They did not interview Mr. Hicks, Mark Thompson (another whistle blower), or Secretary of State Clinton. But the so-called media of the left did not want to know why such important people were not interviewed. Neither the media nor the A.R.B. could think of a single question to ask these people. They do not want to know who gave the order to troops at the ready to "stand down." If that order came from anyone other than Obama (and if Obama had stayed engaged rather than worrying about heading to Vegas for another fundraiser) then as Commander-in-Chief he had the absolute authority to overturn that order.

* The NY Times, not surprisingly, was no better than the LA Times. In their 5/10/13 editorial the headline was "The Republicans' Benghazi Obsession." You see, the A.R.B. already blamed unnamed leadership and management at State for the inadequate security and lack of response. So, that's that. Then a funny thing happened. ABC, a mainstream outlet, disclosed additional emails revealing more about how the "talking points" were watered down, with far more involvement by State and the White House than Jay Carney had admitted last year. It's one thing for Fox, The Weekly Standard or other conservative outlets to pursue this story. Now, the NY Times sees one of their competitors in the liberal media pursuing it. So suddenly - overnight in fact - it is not just the Republicans' obsession. No, it's a front page story above the fold on May 11, with a clearly different twist to the headline: "Benghazi e-mails put White House on the defensive." With ABC having taken the lead, the very first paragraph says "the White House was more deeply involved in revising talking points about the attack than officials have previously acknowledged." So when White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the only change made by the White House and State Department was to change Benghazi from being a "consulate" to a "diplomatic outpost" it was a lie.

* State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was unhappy with the the original CIA draft of the talking points, referring as it did to Al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia, and possibly making State look bad for not having increased security in light of earlier attacks on various consulates in Benghazi. However, the first rewrite was still unsatisfactory, as Ms. Nuland stated that the changes did not "resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership." Of course, her building's leader was Hillary Clinton. But the A.R.B. did not address the cover-up and the NY Times and the rest of the mainstream media could not think of anything to ask Secretary Clinton regarding the cover-up. After all, with regards to whether the attack was a terrorist attack or due to a demonstration over a video, Clinton told us in her testimony before Congress: "What difference does it make?" The media that held on like a pit bull over Watergate, was satisfied with that comment by Clinton. Obama subsequently added with regards to the investigation, "there's no there there." And that satisfied today's mainstream media as well.

* The press serves a unique function in our society. Aside from the constitutional checks and balances on unrestrained government power, the First Amendment guarantees a free press, with the ability to challenge government officials and question their words and deeds. When the press will only challenge Republican leaders, we all lose. One might think that the IRS scandal, in which the Obama Administration targeted conservative groups and individuals which supported Romney, would make the media say "enough is enough." It was not to be.

* The front page of Sunday's NY Times explains in its headline: "Confusion and Staff Troubles Rife at Cincinnati I.R.S. Office." In reading the article I counted at least 8 different excuses the Times made for this anti-American abuse of government power. (1)There was a "revolving cast of midlevel managers," (2)there was "miscommunication with IRS lawyers and executives in Washington," (3)they were "confused about the rules they were enforcing," (4)"few if any of the employees were experts on tax law," (5)"people were coming and going, asking for advice and not getting it," and (6)"sometimes forgetting the cases existed," (7)"administering the nearly four million word federal tax code involves so many arcane legalities," and (8)the Cincinnati office was overwhelmed by "60,000 paper applications trying to find efficient means of dealing with that."

* First, none of these excuses explain how the IRS came to target conservative groups. Given all the excuses proffered by the NY Times, one wonders how the IRS could have even figured out which groups were conservative groups. Yet figure it out they did, and targeted those groups accordingly. Second, let me state that it was not only the Cincinnati office targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups. Third, individuals were targeted as well. One Frank VanderSloot made a large donation to Romney in 2011. In April, 2012, VanderSloot and seven others were targeted by the Obama campaign. Mr. VanderSloot was accused of having a "less than reputable record." After never having problems with the IRS, in June he gets audited. In July, the Department of Labor decided they needed to audit the guest workers at his ranch, and in September the IRS decided they needed an audit of his business. (Info from Kimberly Strassel article in the 5/17/13 Wall Street Journal.)

* Strassel makes a brilliant point. Whether Obama ever picked up the phone or directly ordered anyone to engage in these abuses of power is beside the point. It is not just that he is the President. No, it is the tone he has set from the time he first ran for office until now. Everyone who disagreed with him was an enemy; none held their beliefs or acted in good faith. Those who cling to their guns and religion. Obama (along with Reid, Pelosi and others) badmouthing the very peaceful Tea Party, and supporting the far less than peaceful Occupy Wall Street. Obama condemning the "millionaires and billionaires" time after time after time as not paying their fair share. Obama saying the Republicans want dirty air and dirty water. Obama calling supporters of the Second Amendment liars. And the list could go on and on.

* When Obama first ran for President I had suggested to a friend that, regardless of his democrat affiliation, he should be wary of a Chicago politician who not only hails from Chicago, but has a history of engaging in Chicago-style politics. It is a take-no-prisoners approach to one's opposition. And now, if I may borrow a line from Obama's mentor Reverend Wright, "Obama's chickens are coming home to roost."