American Elephants

Charles Kesler on the Grand Liberal Project by The Elephant's Child

In a sweeping review of American political history, Kesler outlines the grand liberal project begun a century ago. It is a project, he asserts, that has expressed itself in three distinct waves: political liberalism, economic liberalism, and cultural liberalism. Kesler further maintains that Barack Obama seeks nothing less than to complete and perfect this project. Finally, he confronts the issues of how conservatism lost its way in the face of the liberal project and how it might regain its imitative.

President Obama’s Misguided “War on Coal” by The Elephant's Child

I’m directing the Environmental Protection Agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants, and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.
 …………..Barack Obama, Georgetown University, June 25, 2013

FirstEnergy Corp. announced it would close two coal plants in Pennsylvania, resulting in 380 lost jobs and 2,080 lost megawatts. American Electric Power will be closing its coal-fired plant in Beverly, Ohio, with the loss of 95 jobs, and 585 megawatts of electricity.

New EPA chief Gina McCarthy said petulantly: “Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs, please?” EPA officials understand that their preferred regulatory policies will destroy coal communities. They have decided that natural gas plants are the performance standard.  Yet coal plants remain the one source of energy that produces more of this country’s electricity than any other single source.

Pennsylvania Democrats have joined the opposition to Obama’s “War on Coal.” Since he never worked in the private sector, Mr. Obama remains unfamiliar with the operations of the private economy, and how the actions of government can kill jobs even as the president makes speeches about how job creation is at the very top of his concerns. The extent to which his actions have destroyed jobs and negatively affected the economy escapes him completely.

Mr. Obama speaks of “carbon pollution” — but carbon is not a pollutant. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. We are carbon-based life forms. If we had no carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we would have no food and no life on Earth.

Back in the 20th Century when everyone was captured by the idea that global warming was going to cause the oceans to rise and the planet to sizzle, it was thought that the amount of CO² in the atmosphere was the cause of increasing climate temperatures. But the temperature stopped rising, and cooled a little and CO² kept on rising. It has not warmed at all in the 21st century, and even in the 20th century the net warming amounted to about one degree — not exactly a reason to panic.

The EPA has been authorized by the Clean Air Act to see that the air and water are clean. The agency has pushed that law far past its intent. They have taken the task of keeping the navigable waters clean up the rivers to the tiniest trickle of snowmelt in a roadside ditch. Carbon is not a pollutant in the air, and it is not the job of the EPA to control the climate, nor to monitor the health of the nation. Air quality and water quality are their job.

Environmental regulations have been a major job killer. The agency does not consider unemployment — a fairly major national problem — to be one of their concerns. That is a problem.


Liberalism’s Continuing Inability to Make Sense* by The Elephant's Child

Did we slip into some parallel universe when I wasn’t looking?  In today’s news: Homeland Security loses track of one million foreigners. Homeland Security knows that they arrived in the United States, but they cannot prove that they left the country.An internal audit found that the department won’t meet its own goals for deploying an entry-exit system — a 2004 statutory requirement. So Janet Napolitano, basking in such successes has moved on to run the California  University system, at an enormous jump in remuneration.

The union that represents the people who would have to decide who gets legalized under any new immigration law said that the Obama administration is not ready to handle such an influx of applications. Even limited legalization such as just granting citizenship rights to so-called Dream Act immigrants could lead to problems. “I cannot stress enough how ill-equipped USCIS is to engage in the sort of far-reaching plans before Congress right now— including both the enormous legalization programs proposed as well as the historic increases in both immigrant and non-immigrant visas: said Kenneth Palinkas, president of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Council.

Without much publicity or official announcements the United States has released five top Taliban detainees from Guantanamo as a goodwill gesture to the Taliban. There are no reports of the Taliban releasing captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. A U.S. official said that the prisoners were released under the condition that they will not engage in any violent activity.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in pursuing Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act  which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion, sex , or national origin has alleged that retailers Dollar General and a US subsidiary of auto maker BMW have broken federal law by using criminal background checks in employment decisions. State Attorneys Generals are pushing back: “An employer may have any number of business-driven reasons for not wanting to hire individuals who have been convicted of rape, assault, child abuse, weapons violations or murder — all crimes specifically mentioned in the complaints. No matter how unfair a bright-line criminal background check might seem to some, it i s not your agency’s role to expand the protections of Title VII under the pretext of preventing racial discrimination.”

Contra Costa County, CA, won the right to run a health care call center where workers will answer questions to help implement ObamaCare, and the over 200 jobs it will provide. Half the jobs will be part-time, so the call center does not have to provide health care benefits. The County had about 7,000 applicants for jobs with good working wages and benefits — Supervisors had no idea the jobs would be part-time.

Could be a parallel universe,  just a bad dream, or — your government at work.

* A line from William Voegeli’s Never Enough

Is This Still America? The American People Demand Answers. by The Elephant's Child


What worries you? Are you concerned by NSA collecting meta data from your phone calls, emails, Facebook pages and Twitter posts, with the help of giant technology businesses like Google, Microsoft, Apple and others? How about the police collecting your license plates and driver’s license information?

Or perhaps you are alarmed by ObamaCare’s upcoming collection of your personal and medical information and making it available to hundreds of low paid flunkies?  Your name, age, race, height, weight, blood pressure, allergies, medical status, Social Security number, home address, family members — sorry, HHS has said they don’t have the funds to protect that information — just enough to gather and disseminate it.  Why worry?

Well, the federal government is now working on ways to ease your concerns. They are hiring what they call a  “Behavioral Insights Team” that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to documents obtained by Fox News.

The program is still in its early stages, but the document shows that the White House is working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies — including HHS and the Department of Agriculture. (And the EPA? Of course they include the EPA.)

“Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals,” reads the government document describing the program, which goes on to call for applicants to apply for positions on the team.

The document was emailed by Maya Shankar, a White House senior adviser on social and behavioral sciences, to a university professor with the request that it be distributed to people interested in joining the team. The idea is that the team would “experiment” with various techniques, with the goal of tweaking behavior so people do everything from saving more for retirement to saving more in energy costs.

The document praises subtle policies to change behavior that have already been implemented in England, which already has a “Behavioral Insights Team.” One British policy concerns how to get late tax filers to pay up.

“Sending letters to late taxpayers that indicated a social norm — i.e., that ‘9 out of 10 people in Britain paid their taxes on time’ — resulted in a 15 percent increase in response rates over a three-month period, rolling out to £30 million of extra annual revenue,” the document reads.

Well, isn’t that interesting? I am such a boring person that my metadata is probably not too interesting and used carefully, it can help to find the terrorists in this country that they can’t seem to pick up when they are warned about them by foreign intelligence services — like the Tsarnaev brothers. I’m considerably less comfortable with my complete identity, history, address, who knows— perhaps even my bank account available to bunch of low-paid bureaucrats in beltway cubicles.  Who wouldn’t be? Formal oaths don’t seem to work these days — see Private Manning,  Edward Snowden, and that oath to preserve and defend the Constitution.

The “Behavior Insights Team” is a bundle of really stupid ideas. Is this no longer America? Is this how they plan to win elections and stay in power? Only Liberals could dream up a scheme like this and even consider putting it into action. Colloquially called “The Nudge Squad.” They intend to enroll university professors to serve on the Nudge Squad and develop it.

Derived from a 2008 book by former regulatory czar and far-left Cass Sunstein and Chicago Booth School of Business professor Richard Thaler. Thaler told Fox that the program sounds good. “I don’t know who those people are who would not want such a program, but they must either be misinformed or misguided.”

“The goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government by using scientifically collected evidence to inform policy designs. What is the alternative? The only alternatives I know are hunches, tradition, and ideology (either left or right). Thus spake the voice of the far left academy. They naturally assume that enlightened people such as themselves know better about making choices than the individuals who make the choices.

How about drastically reducing the number of things the government does? There are very few things that our government does well, and the more tasks they add  — the worse it gets. This is an out-of-control administration infused with radical ideas that is extending its reach into territory denied to it by the Constitution — which they want to change because it interferes with their greedy grasp for power. Oh do, very much, read the whole thing.

A Small Victory Against the Encroaching Nanny State by The Elephant's Child

A New York State Appeals Court has ruled that Mayor Bloomberg’s New York City plan to ban large sugary drinks from restaurants and other eateries was an illegal overreach of executive power, upholding a lower court decision in March that struck down the law.

The law would have prohibited those businesses from selling sodas or any other large sugary beverage larger than 16 ounces. The law “violated the state principle of separation of powers” the Appellate Division said in a unanimous decision.

Mayor Bloomberg had advanced the regulation to combat obesity among city residents. Beverage makers and business groups challenged it in court. Good for them. It’s not Mayor Bloomberg’s business.

George Mitchell, R.I.P. American Hero. by The Elephant's Child

George Mitchell

More than any other single person, Texas oil man and petrochemical engineer George Mitchell gets the credit for developing the drilling technology known as hydraulic fracturing that has created a shale oil and gas revolution in America, and dramatically changed the global energy landscape in America’s favor. News agencies are reporting that George Mitchell has died at age 94.

The techniques are changing the energy picture of the world.  Britain has discovered big shale deposits, which are a huge boon for a country where many people were suffering from energy poverty. A couple of years ago, retirees were buying used books at jumble sales because they were cheaper to burn than wood or coal.

As the techniques combining hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling advanced, “Fracking” started unlocking vast deposits of shale oil and gas in America on private lands, where permission from the federal government was not necessary. President Obama remains in pursuit of the last traces of CO² which he calls “carbon pollution.”

The significance of the shale revolution can hardly be overestimated. Beginning in about 2006, domestic production of oil and gas has surged by more than 30% between 2005 and 2012 and completely reversed  a three-decade long decline in production. ( Which partly accounted for the enthusiasm for alternative energy — addiction to foreign oil, you know).

From Bloomberg:

Mitchell’s innovative use of horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing in the 1990s to release gas from a previously impermeable rock formation near Fort Worth, Texas, earned him the nickname the “father of the Barnett Shale.” Those drilling breakthroughs revolutionized oil and gas exploration from Pennsylvania to Poland and the Yukon Territory to Argentina.

“My engineers kept telling me, ‘You are wasting your money, Mitchell.’ And I said, Well damn it, let’s figure this thing out, because there is no question there is a tremendous source bed that’s about 250 feet thick.”

From Knox News/ AP:

George P. Mitchell leveraged a penchant for hard work, an appetite for risk and dogged persistence in the face of futility into a technological breakthrough that reshaped the global energy industry and made the wildcat oilman a billionaire. Mitchell, the developer and philanthropist who also is considered the father of fracking, doggedly pursued natural gas he and others knew were trapped in wide, thin layers of rock deep underground. Fracking brought an entirely new — and enormous — trove of oil and gas within reach.

The son of a Greek immigrant who ran a cleaning and shoeshine business in Galveston, Mitchell became one of the wealthiest men in the U.S. and an American hero. His technological breakthrough transformed economies in North Dakota, Texas and Pennsylvania, and is migrating around the world.

George Mitchell’s life and works contradict every element of Obama’s “fairness doctrine,” his economic policies, and his constant attacks on “the rich.” It is optimistic, hard-working individual liberty and creativity that creates jobs, makes other people rich and makes America an exceptional nation.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Saudi royal and billionaire, thinks the US. shale boom is endangering his country’s economy. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is now pumping at less than its production capacity because consumers are limiting their oil imports. The kingdom is facing a threat since its economy’s near-complete reliance on oil as 92% of this year’s budget depends on oil.

Naked Pole Dancing in Canada’s Parks by The Elephant's Child

Did you ever wonder what the bears do in the woods when we are not there to observe them? Would you believe pole dancing? Nah, they just have itchy backs like the rest of us. 

These images were captured with a remote wildlife camera as various species visited a “communications tree in Kananaskis County in the Alberta National Parks.

(h/t: American Digest)

Media Bias: How It’s Done. by The Elephant's Child

Republicans are noted for bellyaching about media bias. Here’s a particularly good, but silly, example, The Associated Press is usually a good example.

Under the headline “Iowans express support for health care expansion” —the article begins : “Iowa residents are largely expressing support for a plan to expand low-income health care, although there are still questions about some of the details.” That certainly give you the impression that the people of Iowa really like ObamaCare, doesn’t it? You have to read the whole (very short) article to discover that they are writing about a meeting attended by 75 people. Bwa-ha-hahaha. Really?

There is Never Enough. Never. by The Elephant's Child

Random gleanings from today’s news, that somehow seem to be connected.

There was a time when the city of Detroit was a busy metropolis of 1.8 million people, and had the highest per capita income in America. Today is a decaying city of 700,000 that has filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. A judge has delayed it, but the city is more than broke.

•The city owes money to more than 100,000 creditors. •Detroit faces $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities. •In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit. •Now there are less than 27,000. •There are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city. •47 percent  of the residents of the city are functionally illiterate. •40 percent of the streetlights don’t work. •If you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.

Even the New York Times has had an article pointing out Detroit as ‘America’s Future.’ The city has been declining for a long time and waiting, since the 1960s, for the federal government to bail them out.

Yet Walter Russell Mead points out that despite everything, Detroit is still going ahead with its plan to build a $450 million taxpayer-funded sports arena. Even Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr support sticking with the city legislature’s vote to build a half billion dollar hockey stadium.  They see it as economic development that will provide jobs and be productive for the city.

Zero Hedge reports that Chicago’s cash balance has dropped to only $33 million as the city’s debt triples. That’s down from $167 million cash balance the previous year. The city’s long term debt has soared to nearly $29 billion —$10,780 per resident.

The Inspector General for Health and Human Services says the agency doesn’t have enough money to monitor and address Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse, They have canceled an audit of computer system security for ObamaCare insurance exchanges, a probe of Medicare Part D drugs for safety and effectiveness, and an investigation into fraudulent suppliers of high-cost durable medical equipment. ( In other words your medical records  with your personal information will not be secure) They are able to hire thousands of community organizers at $20 -$48 per hour to help enroll people in ObamaCare.

President Obama has said he will veto the defense authorization bill unless he gets health care premiums and co-pays increased for troops and scheduled military pay raises reduced. Tricare is the health care program for Uniformed Service members, retirees and their families worldwide. The benefits for civilian defense workers remain unscathed.

Yesterday Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Fox News Sunday that President Obama will neither sign government funding bills that slash domestic spending, nor negotiate with republicans over spending cuts to raise the federal debt limit. He also said the president would not accept a budget in which domestic spending is further cut to soften the blow to Defense spending. “That’s unacceptable,” Lew said. There is never enough. They always need more. Investors says it is about cutting budgets:

Surging spending has driven the massive buildup of debt under President Obama. Total federal debt today is $17 trillion, twice as high as when Obama began.

Lew and others would have you believe it’s Republicans’ fault for refusing to spend enough to revive the economy — a common refrain among Democrats.

But federal spending soared from about 20% of GDP when Obama entered office to over 25% — an all-time record — the following year. Today at 23% it’s still way above the norm of around 18% to 20%. And it would go even higher, if Obama had his way.

Earlier this month, Democrat Max Baucus and Republican Orrin Hatch, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to their fellow senators, soliciting thoughts on reforming the federal tax code. Their idea was to start with a blank slate and have the senators justify each tax break, deduction and exemption. Few legislators chose to participate. Most Democrats simply insisted that it was necessary to raise taxes by about $1 trillion over the next ten years.

Harry Reid piously said that he wasn’t even going to read the letter. The priority should be reducing inequality. (read redistribute wealth). Democrats simply want tax increases. There is never enough. They want bigger government. More control. More regulation. Never enough.

William Voegeii has written a splendid book on just that subject, and with that title: Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State, which I recommend highly. It is a great pleasure to read, and a keeper.

Ooops! An Unfortunate Interview With the New York Times. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama did a rare interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, and there was this interesting exchange:

NYT: The “Keystone XL pipeline — Republicans talk about that as a big job creator. You’ve said that you would approve it only if you could be assured it would not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon in the atmosphere. Is there anything that Canada could do or the oil companies could do to offset that as a way of helping you to reach that decision.”

MR. OBAMA: Well, first of all, Michael, Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that is true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a (sic) economy of 150 million people.

NYT: Yet there are a number of unions who want you to approve this.

MR. OBAMA: Well, look, they might like to see 2,000 jobs initially. But that is a blip relative to the need.

So what we also know is, is that that oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States. In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.

Now, having said that, there is a potential benefit for us integrating further with a reliable ally to the north our energy supplies. But I meant what I said; I’m going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.


Keystone XL— In December, 2010, TransCanada Corporation released a detailed job breakdown for the Keystone XL pipeline, and said it will create 13,000 construction employment opportunities, and 7,000 manufacturing jobs in America.

In response to critics who argue that the company’s job creation estimates for the project are too high and will lead to ‘a few hundred’ temporary jobs, the company shot back with a detailed account of employment potential in the United States, right down to the number of oilers, labourers and welders needed for the U.S. $7 billion project.

“These are new, real U.S. jobs. Thirteen thousand American would be put to work constructing our Keystone XL project,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer in a statement. “Seven thousand more jobs would be created in the U.S. manufacturing sector, making materials needed to build Keystone XL.”

The project would also need millions of dollars of materials such as steel pipes and related services, which would generate indirect jobs and revenues for American suppliers.

Construction of the 1,600 mile pipeline is broken down into 17 U.S. pipeline spreads or segments, with 500 workers per spread — that’s 8,500 jobs.

Keystone XL also needs 30 pump stations worth tens of millions of dollars. Each station requires 100 workers — that’s 3,000 jobs. Add another 600 jobs that would be needed for the six construction camps and tank construction at Cushing, Oklahoma.

The project would need construction, management and inspection oversight — that would create 1,000 jobs, bring the overall Keystone XL total to 13,000 direct on-site jobs.

If I remember correctly Mr. Obama went to Cushing, Oklahoma for a photo-op in front of piles of gleaming steel pipe. He was going to approve the southern portion of the Keystone that stretched from Cushing to Texas or Louisiana, I forget which.  I never read anything further about that, so perhaps it never was started. The president did get his picture taken though.

So, there is some evidence that there’s a little more than somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs (chuckle) in an economy of 150 million people.  (150 million? )

Granted this was a 2010 estimate, but I feel confident that the President of TransCanada published an accurate summary.

Unfortunately, I cannot trust information from the American administration. All is political, at all times.

And there is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is a natural fertilizer, Makes plants grow, feeds the hungry people of the world.  If there were no carbon there would be no life. “Carbon pollution” indeed.

There is Never Enough to Satisfy a Liberal! by The Elephant's Child

The public’s approval rate for Congress is a dismal 10%. People think Congress should be getting along and striving to do what’s right for the country, specifically fixing the economy and creating jobs. That is why President Obama’s endless speeches this week have emphasized creating jobs and growing the economy from the middle class out.

The economy, Democrats believe, is in recession because of a lack of demand. People aren’t buying enough stuff. To help the economy recover, they must stimulate it by pumping money in — doesn’t matter where or how. There is a multiplier effect as dollars pass around from hand to hand. That’s the theory behind the stimulus, and the recovery act, and the spending on clean green energy. The stimulus failed to get us out of the recession because it wasn’t big enough. There is never, never enough.

October, 2012, President Obama made his case for reelection  saying “I stopped a Second Great Depression.” “My policies are working.” “A slow recovery was inevitable.” He’s rephrased it now, but he’s still quite sure that he is doing all the right things. He just needs us to believe.

There is never enough. There is never enough government, because the next agency, the next bureau, the next commission will fix things. The next big investment in infrastructure, in health care, in new ports for supertankers, in a new solar array, a new wind farm, the next regulation will fix things. They just need more money to spend.

When they institute the new bill of rights, the one that guarantees a good job at a good wage for a day’s hard work, a good education that allows them to compete in a global economy, a home of their own, affordable health care that’s there when they need it, and a secure retirement. Never enough.

But the good job? We have over 20 million people who are unemployed. The schools have been growing worse steadily. The government offers a national curriculum called “Common Core” which is being rejected by school districts and parents. Infrastructure — back to the crumbling roads and bridges. A vast battle to stop the nonexistent carbon pollution that is causing the nonexistent global warming that hasn’t warmed at all in this century.

But why hasn’t the economy recovered? Why aren’t there any jobs? Business does not hire because of the skyrocketing cost of ObamaCare. Because of soaring energy costs. Because of increased and unnecessary regulation. Because of government interference in business. Because they can’t find well-educated job applicants.

Never enough. Never enough taxpayer money. Never enough regulation, Never enough entitlements to give to the people. And they have no understanding of why the recession has not ended yet.

But you see, it’s just a kneejerk habit of the Republicans. If Obama is for it, they’ve got to be against it. He knows Republicans who are deeply concerned about the effects o the sequester, and say it doesn’t make sense to cut discretionary spending more. Never enough.

“Political Posturing, Phony Scandals” and Talking Points. by The Elephant's Child

But over the past couple of years in particular, Washington has taken its eye off the ball.  An endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals shift focus from what needs to be done. 
— President Barack Obama, Wednesday July 26, 2013

Oddly enough, the scandals (plural) only became “phony” just days after a retiring  IRS lawyer implicated the IRS chief counsel’s office, headed by an Obama appointee, as well as the head of the IRS’ exempt organizations office.

“In Thursday’s hearing before the House Oversight Committee, 72-year-old retiring IRS lawyer Carter Hull implicated the IRS chief counsel’s office headed by William J. Wilkins, who attended at least nine White House meetings, and Lois Lerner, head of the exempt-organizations office, in the IRS scandal.”

In so doing, he made clear the targeting of Tea Party groups started in Washington and was directed from Washington.reported Investors.

“Former White House senior adviser David Axlerod on Friday called the IRS’ inappropriate targeting of mainly conservative political advocacy groups applying for nonprofit status “stupid and disturbing” but argued that there are far more pressing issues for the country to deal with.

I think the behavior was something that needs to be corrected, but I don’t think that it was the political scandal that was [there], Mr. Axlerod said on MSNBC”s “Morning Joe.

Noting that President Obama has already replaced the top leadership at the tax agency, Mr. Axlerod added, “I think all these hearings searching for the smoking fun of a political scandal where the White House or someone in [a} high place ordered this — I think that is a phony deal. I don’t think that’s the real issue reported,” the Washington Times.

National Review tells the story of “a tea party group targeted by Democrats gets attention from the IRS —and the FBI, OSHA, and the ATF.” Catherine Engelbrecht’s story of her family’s three-year ordeal is both credible and chilling.  You need to read the whole thing. And she is not alone, there are many other cases. Frank VanderSloot, an Idaho businessman and Romney campaign donor, was threatened, slandered, audited, and audited again. No fine, no penalty, but his legal bills ran about $80,000. The stories abound. Dozens and dozens of conservative groups were targeted by IRS audits, endless questions, requests for more information, targeting by other agencies, anything that could delay the 501(c)(4) status that would enable deductible donations. There certainly seemed to be an official effort to neutralize individual donors and groups who were supporting Mitt Romney, in an attempt to influence the outcome of the election.

The National Law Journal asked “Why Should the Internal Revenue Service Be Beyond Reproach?”

The Internal Revenue Service in recent weeks has acknowledged that it targeted applicants for tax-exempt organization status based on their political viewpoint, in violation of basic First Amendment principles. That was, obviously and admittedly, a big mistake….Imagine that some Tea Party groups subjected to special monitoring by the IRS were considering suing the agency for violations of their speech, association and equal protection rights. If the Internal Revenue Code imposed a large fine on anyone who unsuccessfully sued the IRS, we would all recognize that as an impermissible penalty on the right to petition. Yet that’s exactly how the refund penalty provision works. Imposing a penalty will deter people from seeking refunds in close cases, out of fear that if they lose, they could end up owing a hefty fine. By deterring refund claims, the IRS insulates its own decision-making from legal challenges and impairs citizens’ rights to seek relief from their own elected government.

The Supreme Court has guarded this right assiduously. The right covers petitioning the legislature, the executive branch or the courts. It prohibits any sanction — whether a fine, tort liability or even a retaliatory investigation — on the right to petition.

The president, prior to deciding it was a phony scandal, said he wasn’t going to stand for any misbehavior at the IRS and fired Acting Commissioner Steven Miller, but it turned out that Miller was due to retire in a couple of weeks anyway.

The new acting commissioner of the IRS is Daniel Werfel, who has risen through the ranks as a civil servant, primarily at the OMB and as a lawyer in the Justice Department.  He has already announced that “inappropriate screening was used more broadly than disclosed.” There were some inappropriate BOLO lists (Be On The Lookout), but he just hasn’t been able to find any evidence of intentional wrongdoing.  Nothing to see here, just move along. Can you spell c-o-v-e-r-u-p?

Jeffrey Zients, former acting OMB head who met with IRS officials at the White House during the targeting scandal, has been out of the country since April, and has not yet returned.

When the IRS targeting scandal broke in May, both the Obama administration and the mainstream media took it quite seriously. Even MSNBC’s Chis Hayes called the selective screening of conservative groups a “genuine abuse of power” at the time.

The evening and morning shows did 96 stories in the first two weeks according to the Media Research Council. The coverage steadily disappeared, and between June 28 and July 24, the Center recorded “zero stories” on the matter. When a major development broke last week — testimony by a retired IRS worker that an Obama appointee was involved in the screening process, only CBS evening news reported it.

In early June, the Democratic National Committee sent a memo to reporters declaring that the word to describe the GOP’s reaction to the Obama administration’s  scandals was “overreach,”  Salon published an article on the IRS issue asserting that in the end, “the entire scandal narrative was a fiction.”

The White House invited selected reporters to attend an off-the-record briefing with White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, in mid June. The White House had been criticized in the previous week after details of the NSA’s surveillance was leaked. About 24 reporters were already in the meeting when the President arrived to discuss his thoughts on recent events — although they were not able to report on what was said. Some reporters said they would not have attended had they known the President would be attending. Getting answers on the record, New York Times reporter Peter Baker said, after all, is our job.

Obama did not specify just which scandals were “phony” and “political posturing” but the administration has been attacked over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs leaked to the public; the IRS targeting of conservative groups, and the extent to which that influenced the election; the Department of Justice’s seizing of media phone records; last year’s attack on the U.S.mission in Benghazi, Libya and the death of our ambassador and three others, and the attempted coverup; and the government’s Fast and Furious scandal which resulted in the death of Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexican citizens. These are all, we are told, “phony.

The Republican’s “War on Women,” on the other hand, is real?

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